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Father, youngest daughter died doing what they loved

    Charles Casados and his daughter Stephanie, 11, in a recent photograph taken at Wet 'n' Wild Water Park.
    Stephanie Casados, 11, was a student at Kaimuki Middle School. Besides excelling in school, her mother said she was interested in volleyball, golf, ballet and Japanese language.
    Daughter, Stephanie, age 11, in a recent photograph.
    Yoko Casados remembers her daughter, Stephanie, age 11, who drowned along with her father, Charles, at Makapuu tide pools.
    Yoko Casados wiped away tears yesterday as she spoke about her daughter.

Charles Casados and his youngest child, 11-year-old Stephanie, would take excursions every Wednesday — hiking, swimming and other outdoor activities.

Casados picked her up at 1 p.m. and would unfailingly bring her home between 7 and 8 p.m. to her mother, Yoko Casados, from whom he was separated for 2 1/2 years.

So when the two did not return last Wednesday night, Yoko thought it strange and tried calling Charles, but he never answered.

The next morning, she called Kaimuki Middle School and learned her bright sixth-grader was not there. That’s when she knew something was wrong.

"She love school so much," said Yoko Casados. (A year ago, Stephanie was listed as having perfect attendance at Jefferson School.) "She don’t miss school. I thought this is some accident."

At 3:45 Thursday, hikers spotted the bodies of the 51-year-old real estate entrepreneur and his daughter in the Makapuu tide pools, with injuries from washing up on the rocks. The Medical Examiner’s Office determined the deaths were due to accidental drowning.

When Yoko Casados called police Thursday morning, several officers arrived at her door, insisting her husband might have tried to keep their daughter with him and possibly had taken her to another island, she said.

"One percent he would hold my child; 99 percent it’s an accident. … You can’t chase 1 percent. People missing, go look for them," she said she told police.

She described her husband as a good father who loved their children and was a nice and kind man.

Casados learned she had lost her daughter and husband from her 21-year-old son, Charlie, in Los Angeles. Early Thursday evening, he had seen a report on a news website about the discovery of the bodies of an 11-year-old girl and a man at the Makapuu tide pools.

He knew then it was his father and little sister, and he cried, Casados said.

Police soon called Casados, who went to the main station to identify them through photos. He was still wearing swim goggles.

"Ocean is very dangerous place," Casados said, speculating that Stephanie might have gotten into trouble and Charles tried to help her.

"My husband is a very careful person," she said, adding that he liked to go to new places.

But the Makapuu tide pools was where Charles brought her on a date before their children were born, she recalled, where he enjoyed searching for crabs and other sea creatures.

The final excursion for father and daughter was captured on a digital camera police recovered. "Stephanie was very happy … happy face," Casados said, adding that the photos showed a rocky area with what looked like calm water in the background.

Stephanie loved the water and enjoyed swimming in the pool where they lived. Casados shared photos of her daughter swimming with the dolphins at Sea Life Park, and with her dad enjoying the water park.

Casados quit her full-time job with JalPak when Stephanie was born, dedicating herself to her children and to be with her baby.

Stephanie excelled in math and just about every subject in school. She wanted to be a teacher, and Casados wanted to send her to Punahou for high school.

She encouraged her to always "do your best."

"It’s too early for my daughter," she said, her eyes filling with tears. "I’m very sad because she’s not here."

Stephanie’s interests and abilities ranged from volleyball and golf to ballet and Japanese language.

The couple’s older daughter, Lisa, 19, will return today from London, where she is an exchange student. Son Charlie returned yesterday afternoon from Los Angeles.

The news of the drowning hit Charles Casados’ mother, Petra F. Williams, especially hard.

"His dad died in an accidental drowning when he was about 4 years old," said his sister Diane Perez. "It’s been really hard for my mom to have lost her first husband that way and, all these years later, to lose her son that way."

Born and raised in Texas, Casados was an honor roll student who played football and tennis in high school, joined the Army, moving to his final assignment — Hawaii — in 1980, she said.

He told his mother "when he saw Hawaii for the first time, he found paradise and he would live in paradise," Perez said.

Perez said her brother was always there for his family in Texas, sending money to his mother when he was in the military to help with Perez’s medical expenses, and coming to his mother’s side when her husband died last year.

Casados, who owned some Waikiki condominium vacation rental units, also owned Chi Rock Creations, importing large marble sculptures of animals to Texas. But he decided it was the wrong market, Perez said, and had plans to import other kinds of sculptures to Hawaii.

The couple met in the early 1980s at Waimea Bay when she was a student at Kansai Gaidai, and she later returned to Japan. After an eight-year relationship, she left a job in Japan as a Japanese-Mandarin translator, and they married in 1989.

Casados is also survived by sister Grace and brothers Samuel F. Casados Jr. and Arthur Jacobs.


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