Family turning daughter's death in DUI crash into effort to save - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Family turning daughter's death in DUI crash into effort to save lives

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Kamalani Kalama was just 13 years old when she died in a car crash involving a drunk driver on May 5, 2013. On Sunday, her friends and family members marked the anniversary by spreading a message aimed at preventing such a tragedy from happening again.

About a hundred people waved signs at the intersection of the Pali and Kalanianaole Highway to remind drivers about driving while intoxicated. But the message wasn't just about the dangers of drunk driving. It was also about what teens should do if they're about to get into a car driven by someone who's been drinking.

"Call mom or dad if auntie or uncle had too much to drink," said Kamalani's mom, Jackie Kalama. "And auntie or uncle, don't be offended. Look at that as a great thing that a child can do that."

Kamalani died after having dinner with a friend in Waikiki. The friend's father, 33-year-old Mark Garcia, was at the wheel when his truck hit a tree on the Pali Highway. He also was killed. Police said he was speeding and had a blood-alcohol level of .123, well above the legal limit.

"Kids have to know that they're empowered," said Theresa Paulette of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "They have cell phones today, and if it's about to happen, they know that there's been drinking and they're supposed to get in that car, don't do it."

Kamalani's best friend said it's important for her to spread the message at her school. "To share her stuff to all the people at Radford (High School) and with all of graduation and prom,and knowing that she was supposed to be doing those things," said Shayla Rice.

Two years later, her parents still feel the loss.

"More precious than gold," Jerry Kalama said about his daughter. "You give me the gold, I give it right back because she was my precious stone. And now that I don't have that, I just got this different feeling in my life now."

Jackie Kalama still hasn't taken off the bracelets Kamalani was wearing the night of the crash. But she wants to make sure the loss of her daughter's life can save so many others.

"If there's anything I can do that can help anybody else by getting this message out, it means the world to us," she said. 

"It means she lives on."

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