Kayaker who died identified - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kayaker who died identified

Sione Lefao (Source: ROTC) Sione Lefao (Source: ROTC)
(Source: Pase Valentino) (Source: Pase Valentino)

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Fellow cadets in the University of Hawaii Army ROTC program said Sione Lefao was a humble and quiet young man with a strong heart.

"His character and his actions spoke for him most of the time. He didn't really say much," fellow cadet Pase Valentino said.

"We're pretty much in shock right now," ROTC. Maj. James Barros said.

Barros said Lefao and two friends from his UH dorm went kayaking Saturday to the twin islands off Lanikai beach in Kailua.when a wave swept Lefao off rocks and into the ocean.

"They tried to hold onto the rock. They tried to hold onto Sione but the current was to strong for them," he said.

Fire rescuers found his body Sunday afternoon.

Valentino called Lefao's mother in American Samoa.

"There really were no words for me. I couldn't say much. All I could do was listen to hear her cry. You can't really say much when a mother cries," he said.

"His mom said, 'It's nobody's fault. It just happened,'" Barros said.

Lefao was a sophomore studying political science. His ROTC class was scheduled to be commissioned in May 2013.

"He actually enlisted first with the 100th battalion 442nd infantry regiment as an infantryman. What he wanted to do was eventually commission as an officer through our program," said ROTC Capt. Jesus Cruz said, who recruited Lefao.

Those close to him described Lefao as a strong cadet with a strong desire to succeed.

He was 22 years old.

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