The Rev. Abraham Akau Sr., a legendary paniolo, pastor and longtime mentor at Kualoa Ranch, died today from injuries in an all-terrain vehicle crash.
Akau, 81, was crossing to the mauka side of Kamehameha Highway on a Suzuki ATV at about 11:05 a.m. when he struck a Kaneohe-bound 2002 Saturn driven by a 37-year-old Hauula woman, police said. Akau was thrown and suffered critical injuries. He was taken to Castle Medical Center, where he died.
Akau, who lived across the street from Kualoa Ranch, was leaving his house and heading to the ranch just before the crash, said a ranch employee who witnessed the incident.
“It’s tragic,” Art Aoki Jr., Akau’s first cousin once removed, said at the crash site.
Akau was a longtime horse trainer and visited Kualoa Ranch nearly every day, despite having retired as foreman years ago, family members said.
Born in Waimea on Hawaii island, he began working for Parker Ranch when he was 15. He was 22 when he started working for Kualoa Ranch in 1953. In 1999, he became one of the first members of the Oahu Cattlemen’s Association’s Paniolo Hall of Fame.
Akau was also the senior pastor at His Highest Praise church in Kaaawa.
“He was like a dad to all of us,” said Aoki, 62, of Kalihi Valley, who remembered visiting Akau at Kualoa Ranch as a boy. “He’d share with us life stories, and from there you grow.”
He said Akau touched many people and loved Kualoa Ranch.
“He was thankful every day of his life for God to bring him here to Kualoa Ranch,” Aoki said. “This was his love. His love was bringing young kids here to experience the life of the outdoors.”
The flags at Kualoa Ranch were at half-staff today after the crash.