Maui family mourning loss of loved one to COVID-19 seeks to raise awareness about virus

Maui family mourns ‘gentle giant’ who lost battle to COVID-19

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui family is mourning a beloved husband and father of five who died Sunday — just days after contracting COVID-19.

Billy Maluhia “Malu” Plunkett, Jr. was just 43.

The former Maui football coach had recently moved to Utah to start a new life for his family.

“He tried to find a job up there so he could bring his family up to him, had found a warehouse job and that’s where he was working at the time that this happened,” said Plunkett’s sister, Kanani Adolpho.

It’s unclear where exactly Plunkett contracted COVID-19, but Adolpho said her brother went to work last week Sunday and was told that his coworker tested positive for the virusso he was sent home to get tested.

The following day he learned he had COVID-19.

“On Wednesday, he was taken by ambulance because he was unresponsive, he was having a hard time breathing,” she said. By Saturday “COVID had spread to his lungs, his kidneys were failing.”

He died Sunday morning, leaving behind a wife of 22 years and five children. The youngest is 2.

Adolpho described her brother as a “gentle giant” and a humble man.

“He had the biggest hugs,” she said. “He would just stop me from talking, hug me, then I would know everything is going to be OK.”

The Plunkett family hopes others will hear their story this holiday season and heed their warnings.

“We hope that this is going to help people be smarter,” said Adolpho. “His death is going to help save people and bring awareness to COVID.”

This Christmas will be difficult for the Plunketts. The large, tight-knit family will be celebrating virtually. They hope others will do the same.

“It is a sacrifice, but it’s a sacrifice that we are willing to take so we don’t lose anymore loved ones,” Adolpho said.

Now the family’s biggest task is bringing Plunkett home to Maui and funeral arrangements. If you would like to help, click here.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.