In somber procession, families gather at morgue to gather news about loved ones

One of the grim realities of this disaster is that families who would normally be busy at work and school this week are making trips to the county morgue.
Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 5:48 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 17, 2023 at 12:05 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The desperate family members of those still considered missing on Maui have been coming to the county morgue in hopes of getting any information.

It’s one of the grim realities of a disaster whose death toll continues to rise.

People coming the morgue don’t know what they’ll find, but they say they know in their hearts their loved ones are there — and are hoping for confirmation so they can properly handle remains.

At least 3 of those killed in Lahaina wildfire were residents of senior housing complex

Some even brought tea leaf to line the perimeter for protection.

Tony and Brenda Keau came to Maui forensic facility in Wailuku to pay their respects. Tony Keau said he knows deep down that his mother, 83-year-old Gwendaline, is at the facility.

“I feel sorry for the other families what they lost. Maui is hurting.”

One by one, Matson containers showed up to the facility on Tuesday.

Morgue operation specialists loaded and offloaded human remains into two of them. Officials say some containers are full of extra supplies brought in to handle the magnitude of this catastrophe.

Michael Richter lost his home in the fire and his stepdad, 79-year-old James Smith.

“He’s gone. I just want to identify the body,” said Richter, outside of the facility. “I haven’t slept in six days and I just like, I said I just want to identify his body and put them at rest.”

Richter told HNN he spotted a video that showed his stepfather on the rocks along Lahaina harbor.