Kahuku students shocked
over senior’s death

Kurt Ching was killed when the truck
he was riding in flipped over

By Pat Gee

Kahuku High School officials remember Kurt Ching as a friendly, helpful student, artist, golfer and sharpshooter.

Sarah Ackerman, senior class counselor, said the atmosphere at the school was "very, very sad" after learning that the 17-year-old Kahuku High senior died Thursday night in an accident at a Kaneohe ranch off Kahekili Highway.

His classmates were crying and hugging each other for comfort, but some were still in shock, unable to believe Ching had died in the accident, Ackerman said.

Ching, a Hauula resident, was riding in the bed of a 1986 Toyo-ta pickup truck with two other youths when the truck flipped over about 6 p.m. and landed on him.

The truck was being driven in a careless manner, going in circles, by a 19-year-old man, according to police reports. A fifth teenage passenger and the three other youths were not injured, police said.

The accident occurred on private property near the "big dip" between Haiku Road and Hui Iwa Street.

He was pronounced dead on arrival from serious head injuries about 7 p.m. at Castle Medical Center, police said.

Vice Principal Pauline Masaniai said she heard that the two other youths jumped from the truck bed when they felt the truck about to flip over, but Ching either did not have the same sense of an impending accident or was unable to make the jump.

Masaniai said Ching was an aide in the front office and was "very respectful, courteous, always willing to help."

"He was a gentle, quiet person, a very good person," she said. He was on the school's golf team and was a member of the rifle team last year, Masaniai said.

Ackerman said Ching was a "very talented artist" and was enrolled in vocational agricultural courses.

He also worked in the family's Ching Store after school, she said.

Masaniai said the school's monthly "Jump Into Values Education" class will focus on "wise decision-making and appropriate activities" that "hopefully will keep them safe in any activity."

Former Kahuku High School Principal Lea Albert had said in 1998 that she had attended the funerals of 10 students killed in accidents on Kamehameha Highway between Kuilima and Kahaluu.

Ackerman said it is important that students release their emotions by talking to each other or counseling, which will be offered on an individual basis, to prevent the adverse effects of depression on their concentration, schoolwork and general health.

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