Mother of teen crash victim: 'I'm not supposed to bury my baby' - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mother of teen crash victim: 'I'm not supposed to bury my baby'

Toni Naluai Toni Naluai
Kaaikalauamoku Kamakea-Naluai Kaaikalauamoku Kamakea-Naluai

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

WAIMANALO (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Waimanalo woman is calling for an all-out ban on passengers in truck beds after her teenaged son was killed in a crash on Kalanianaole Highway in Olomana Wednesday night.

Family members say the 13-year-old was going to church with his cousins and their parents, when he was thrown from the bed of their truck.

Police arrested the driver of the pickup, Verna Lee Kaleiwohi, 33, on suspicion of second-degree negligent homicide. The victim's mother says she and Kaleiwohi are cousins.

Toni Naluai was comforted by family and friends, less than 24 hours after the sudden death of her son.

"I'm not supposed to bury my baby," she said through tears. "He's supposed to bury me. It's not supposed to happen like this."

Kaaikalauamoku Kamakea-Naluai, an eighth-grader at King Intermediate, was thrown from the bed of a Ford pickup after a collision with a BMW. His mother says Kaleiwohi was driving her husband, Isaac Kaai, their three sons and Kaaikalauamoku to Word of Life church in Honolulu, when she decided to turn around because it was raining so hard.

"When she pulled on the side of the road to turn around, the tires got stuck and she started spinning out," Naluai said. "The tires finally grabbed when she pushed on the gas. When the tires grabbed, she jumped into the road and the other car was coming."

No one else in the truck or car was seriously hurt.

As family members prepared lei for a roadside memorial, the grieving mother talked about the need for an all-out ban on passengers in truck beds.

"I don't care how big the kids are. Nobody should let their babies sit in the back of a pickup truck," Naluai said. "My son was 13 and I don't have him anymore because of that."

Kaaikalauamoku's father quietly went on a solitary ride on the bicycle his son got for Christmas.

Naluai, meanwhile, proudly displayed her son's drawings, calling him a talented artist who also enjoyed skate boarding.

She says she didn't have enough time with him, openly discussing her crystal meth problem. She kicked her habit and recently regained custody.

"I was bad," she said. "I did a lot of bad things, but I got my life together. I got 18 months clean and sober. I came home. I got my kids back. Just when I'm doing good, God takes my baby away."

Police released Kaleiwohi without charges pending further investigation.

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