CA woman, a beloved mom and grandmother, is first visitor identified as wildfire victim

"She had messaged us and said she was having a wonderful time and the island was so healing..."
Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 8:17 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Theresa Cook, of Northern California, was visiting Lahaina when flames tore through the community.

She was last seen near the town’s famous banyan tree as flames spread.

Family members say Cook was staying in Lahaina at the Best Western Pioneer Inn. She was set to return home on Aug. 9, the day after the Lahaina blaze.

“it’s a lot to process. It’s still hard to even admit,” said her son, Adam.

After getting news about the fire, her children hoped their mother was able to flee in time.

“I don’t blame anybody. Things happen. Natural disasters happen. We do the best with the information we’re given, but she left on foot,” said her daughter, Melissa Kornweibel.

Special Section: Those We Lost in Lahaina

On Sunday, officials confirmed the family’s fears.

Theresa Cook was 72, a beloved mother and grandmother.

She’s the first tourist identified as a victim in the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century.

“We know we’re not alone,” Kornweibel said.

“There’s so many people missing and so many people have lost their lives and we’ve never done this before. We would just love any advice and encouraging words and support.”