'We're family now': suspect's kin hold fundraiser to help victim's family

Under a canopy near the entrance to Waianae Small Boat Harbor, people stood in line to pay $9 for a pastele stew plate, with the money going to the family of Ashton Brown.

Brown is the three-year-old boy who lost his life March 28 when a car crashed into a Makaha bus stop. Four other family members were also at the bus stop and are still recovering from their injuries.

Potasi Uta, Jr., remains in custody, indicted on a charge of negligent homicide in connection with the fatal crash.

Uta's family stayed up late Friday night preparing the stew. "And this morning we go all got up, we started cooking the pastele stew," said Uta's niece, Azure Suesue. "We were running a little late, but we're here now to service all of our plate sales."

Saturday's fundraiser is just the latest one run by Uta's family to help the Browns since the crash. The driver's family members cooked the stew and the rice, made the salad, and bought the plates, the plastic utensils, the bags and the drinks, set up the tables and the canopy and sold the tickets.


"We lost a lot of family members, and we know how it feels," said Suesue. "So to see that one of our family members impacted another family the way that it happened, we want to take them under our wings and show them now that we are family now."

They had pre-sold more than a hundred stew plate tickets, and were hoping to sell another hundred at the actual event.

"When you're in a situation such as this is right now, I truly believe we from Hawaii, we just -- people love to do things to help other people. That's a reason why we're here," said Clifford Kaholokula, who came from Pearl City to buy a plate, which he ate at one of the tables set up under a tree. How was the plate? "Awesome," he said.

Uta's family said through other fundraisers and donations made to an account they opened for the Browns at the Bank of Hawaii, they've raised just under $3,500 so far.

"We were actually able to meet up with the family about a couple days ago at the Waianae Bank of Hawaii, and we were able to give them a cashier's check because they were in need of some money to get them into the Ronald McDonald House and for transportation," said Suesue.

"Whatever we can do to help you out, that's what we're going to do because if you were our own and our blood, it would be the exact same way," she added.

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