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A violent carjacking changed her life in an instant. Her recovery could take years.

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 6:14 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lei Kalanui’s life changed forever on Valentine’s Day.

The 28-year-old was sitting in her car in Kalapana when she says a man she didn’t know forced her out.

“This guy comes up and he’s like, ‘I’m going to take this vehicle. I need this. I’m going to take this car,’” said Kalanui.

Her fiancee, Kalani Naki, started chasing him with another car and the fleeing suspect turned back toward her.

“I saw it coming toward me. I didn’t have the self-preservation to try to get out of the way,” said Kalanui.

Kalanui doesn’t remember the impact, but Naki can’t forget.

“She gets hit. Slams face first into the windshield. He slams the breaks. She flies up. Lei flies up. As she was coming back down, he hits her a second time,” said Naki.

Kalanui was hospitalized for a month at the Queen’s Medical Center.

Now she and Naki are living in a group home in Aiea while she goes to physical therapy.

“I have a 50-something percent chance of walking again,” said Kalanui.

The couple says the physical, emotional and financial burden have been a struggle.

“We need help financially. A new start in life,” said Naki.

In March, a Big Island grand jury indicted 36-year-old Pahoa resident Thomas Kilborn with 12 counts, including attempted murder in connection to two violent carjackings.

His next hearing is set for June 18 over his mental health examination.

“I like smash the guy. I’m not going to deny it. I like smash the guy so bad,” said Naki.

Naki says he has flashbacks, but is focused on Kalanui’s care. The couple hopes to move back to the Big Island next month to live with relatives and get married in November.

“It’s another lease on life and I’m not allowed to pass on yet. So I wonder what could I serve and do in this life,” said Kalanui.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help Lei Kalanui’s recovery.

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