Classes resume without beloved teacher following sudden death

Kurt Sonoda
Kurt Sonoda
Keith Hayashi
Keith Hayashi

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

PEARL CITY (KHNL) - Students and staff at Pearl City High School are in mourning, after the sudden death of a popular teacher.

The school contacted state health officials Monday, after hearing flesh-eating bacteria killed him.

After consulting with the Department of Health, school administrators wrote a letter to parents, saying that necrotizing fasciitis is not contagious and that grief counseling is available.

Staff members at Pearl City High distribute copies of a letter to parents and students, concerning the unexpected death of beloved special education teacher Kurt Sonoda.

"Mr. Sonoda's passing was a definite shock for the school because of its, it was so sudden," Keith Hayashi, DOE complex area superintendent, said. "He was a wonderful teacher and students really did enjoy him."

On Friday, he was rushed to Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi with necrotizing fasciitis, commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria. He died that night at the age of 45.

"The school has been in contact with the Department of Health and has implemented measures to ensure that our students are safe," Hayashi said. "So there's nothing to worry about."

Sonoda was an avid golfer, was the state's longest-drive champion, and loved coaching the sport.

"The thing that really struck me with Mr. Sonoda was that he was always willing to help, you know, always willing to lend a hand," Hayashi said.

The teacher also temporarily served as a vice principal.

"He did a great job, worked really well as part of the team, the administrative team, as he did in his role as a teacher," Hayashi said. "And I think that's what truly made him a special person."

The school says its custodial team spent the day washing equipment and floors with a disinfectant cleaner simply as a hygiene measure.

Meanwhile, counselors are offering grief support.

"They are carrying on really well here, you know, supporting the students, supporting each other," Hayashi said.

Sonoda leaves behind a wife, and numerous family members and friends. Services are scheduled for later this month.