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Family’s loss ‘horrible’

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Eunice “Ming Toi” Goo wiped away a tear yesterday while holding Samuel Kassebeer’s favorite hat near a memorial put up by the family at the Kassebeer residence in Waimanalo. Goo was catapulted onto Kalanianaole Highway when a black 1995 Honda Accord rear-ended the Elantra carrying her, Kassebeer and her cousin Shayna Joseph.


Services for Samuel Austin Iokepa Kassebeer, who died in a traffic accident July 25 in Waimanalo, will be held Aug. 15 at 2 p.m. at the Waimanalo Homestead Association Halau, 41-253 Ilauhole St. A Page B1 article yesterday had an incorrect date.


Eunice "Ming Toi" Goo remembers sitting in the passenger seat of a 2003 Hyundai Elantra, waiting to make a left turn into her house in Waimanalo when the car suddenly shook from the concussive blast of a car roaring by.

Goo remembers yelling out, "What the hell’s going on?" and then – suddenly – "the other one plugged us," Goo said yesterday.

Her next conscious moment occurred in an ambulance speeding to the Queen’s Medical Center. She had fractured ribs, skull injuries and severe scrapes up and down her body.

It was only later that Goo learned that she had been catapulted onto Kalanianaole Highway when a black 1995 Honda Accord rear-ended the Elantra and spun it around, critically injuring her and her cousin Shayna Joseph, who was driving.

And then the worst news came: Their 11-year-old nephew, Samuel Austin Iokepa Kassebeer, had died on Kalanianaole Highway after he had been ejected from the back seat of the Elantra by the force of the collision in the early hours of July 25.

"We’re all having a really, really, really, really hard time," Goo, 42, said yesterday in Waimanalo. "The loss of the baby is horrible. We were very, very close."

The family plans a funeral for "Sammy" on Sunday at the Waimanalo Homestead Association Halau.

As the large, extended family from Waimanalo makes preparations for Sammy’s funeral, Joseph, 39, remains hospitalized.

She was transferred from Queen’s to Kaiser Permanente’s Moanalua Medical Center on Saturday with two punctured lungs, fluid in one lung, fractured ribs and a broken collarbone, said Julie Kassebeer, Sammy’s grandmother and Joseph’s auntie.

"She’s taking a little longer to heal," Kassebeer said yesterday.

Goo was discharged from Queen’s on Thursday "and looks like ‘Throw Momma from the Train,’" said Kassebeer, who is Goo’s cousin.

"She flew out of the car and has a dent in her head and road rash throughout her body," Kassebeer said.

Living along Kalanianaole Highway, Goo never gets used to the cars that constantly race each other through the beachside community. Yesterday her emotions swung from anger to grief to anger again that her nephew was killed by an alleged racer right in front of her house.

"We deal with these kids speeding by every day," Goo said.

Herbert K. Kaio-Campbell, 20, of Waimanalo was arrested at the scene of the crash on suspicion of negligent homicide and driving under the influence.

In May, Kaio-Campbell had received the Honolulu Fire Department’s medal of valor for rescuing a teenage swimmer Oct. 2 in rough surf at Makapuu. He escaped the July 25 crash with minor injuries.

Sammy, at just 11 years old, was the gentle man-child of the family, one who stood nearly 6 feet tall and weighed 320 pounds.

His family dreamed of seeing him playing football in the NFL one day, but his real love was music.

Goo chafed yesterday at the implications by anonymous, online writers who questioned why the family would have Sammy out at 1:43 a.m., when the crash occurred.

But Goo said he was at a family party three doors down at his other grandmother’s house.

"None of us was drinking," she said. "It’s all family out here. All of the houses belong to family."

The party included Sammy’s favorite island reggae band, Everyday People, and an inflatable jumper.

Just like all of the other kids in the family, Sammy loved to jump. But, ever courteous of the smaller children, he had waited for the other kids to finish before taking his turn on the jumper, Goo said.

"Sammy was a very big boy," Goo said. "Even though all of the other kids would be jumping, Sam would always jump later because he’s so big. Then we just went to pick him up at Grandma’s because we didn’t want him walking home."

Yesterday, Sammy would have joined the rest of the family in welcoming their latest addition, Hailey Ho, who was born at the Queen’s Medical Center to the son of Sammy’s godparents.

"He would have loved it," Goo said. "It’s all just so sad."

Sammy is survived by parents Betty-Jo Kaua Kassebeer and Robert Petty Jr.; brothers Noah and Hae Kassebeer and Ryan, Rustin and Rylee Petty and Kamakana Petty-Tam; grandmother Julie Kassebeer; great-grandparents Henry and Mary Kassebeer; aunts Eunice Goo and Michelle Petty; and uncles Robert and Sonny Kassebeer and Fred and Tony Petty.

Services are Sunday, Aug. 15, at 2 p.m. at the Waimanalo Homestead Association Halau, 41-253 Ilauhole St. An earlier version of this story had an incorrect date for the services.


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