Mother of pedestrian killed in Makaha: 'I still don't want to believe it'

Shelly Willingham
Shelly Willingham

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

MAKAHA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Makaha woman who couldn't find her son Sunday night turned to a GPS tracking device for help. But the cell phone trail led to a devastating discovery at the scene of a deadly crash.

Shelly Willingham is having trouble processing the fact that the oldest of her three sons is gone. She keeps looking at the front door of her home expecting to see 22-year-old Justin come in.

"But he didn't walk through the door," she said through tears. "It's still hard because I still don't want to believe it."

Police say Justin Willingham was walking on the shoulder of Farrington Highway in Makaha at about 8 PM Sunday, when a car veered to the right and slammed into him. The car continued traveling -- with him caught through the front windshield -- until it finally stopped in a ditch.

"How did you find out about the accident?" this reporter asked.

"By chance," Shelly Willingham replied.

She says she came upon the wreck at about midnight, after she tried several times to reach her son by phone. The GPS feature on his cell led her to the site.

"His phone had been stuck in one area for four hours," she said. "I went looking for him to where his phone would be. Where his phone was was smack dab in the middle of..."

Witnesses say the driver got out of the car and attempted to flee, but they grabbed him and held him until officers arrived.

"I wish I could just hug them because I think that is kind of what helps because the person that did it didn't get away because there were people there that did the right thing," the victim's mother said.

Police arrested Valentine Mahuiki, 20, on suspicion of first-degree negligent homicide, failure to render aid, driving under the influence, and driving without a license.

"Part of me wants to be really, really angry," Shelly Willingham said. "But another part is I heard it was a 20-, in various news reports online, it was a 20-year-old kid and that kid has got to live with that for the rest of his life."

Justin was an office assistant for RE/MAX in Kapolei. Co-workers at the real estate firm described him as loyal, genuine and trustworthy.

"I just want my son back," the victim's mother said.

A fund has been established to help Justin Willingham's family with funeral expenses. If you would like to contribute, visit any American Savings Bank branch. The name on the account, which was opened Monday, is "Markette Greggs."

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