Deadly crash forces teens to take notice

Published On: Nov 21 2012 06:52:18 PM HST   Updated On: Nov 22 2012 05:23:57 PM HST
Kupukaa Memorial Hug


Kawehi Kupukaa's sister hugs another relative at the scene of the crash on Kaimalie Street in Ewa Beach.

Ewa Beach, Hawaii -

One day after a crash claimed the life of 14-year-old Kawehi Kupukaa, more than a hundred of her classmates from Campbell High School flocked to the scene to pay their respects.

Kupukaa was killed Tuesday when the 16-year-old driver of a GMC Envoy, Brandon Harris, slammed head-on into a Porsche SUV on Kaimalie Street at about 1:30 p.m.  Police say speed and alcohol were factors in the crash that left both vehicles a mangled mess.

Fellow students who knew Kupukaa say the collision has forced them to consider the choices they make, and how it could impact their loved ones.

"For something to happen like this, I hope that it really changes me in the way I drive and the way I act," said Triston Pebria, a close friend to Kupukaa's family.  "I hope that by doing so, it also impacts many others and they'll do the same."

Kupukaa was a sophomore at Campbell, and by all accounts, she was the spark plug for the girls' OIA JV softball championship team.   

"She came to school happy (and) she left school happy.  There was never a dull moment with her," said Tayzha Pebria, a freshman who played with Kupukaa.  "I miss her a lot," Pebria added.

Harris remained hospitalized at the Queen's Medical Center, but his condition was not made public.  Another passenger in the GMC Envoy, 15-year-old Johnoven Kawika Lagon, was back at his home in Ewa Beach on Wednesday after being released from the hospital. Lagon identified Kupukaa as his girlfriend on his Facebook page.

Grief counselors were on hand Wednesday morning at Campbell High School to offer support to students still shell-shocked over the deadly collision. Caragh Morris, a freshman, said she and other members of the softball team spent about an hour reflecting on what had transpired.

"It was heartbreaking," said Morris.  "I was crying the whole first period."

Meanwhile, KITV4 has learned the woman driving the Porsche is Landa Jeffrey, a married 41-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran from Ewa Beach and the mother of an eight-year-old girl.  Jeffrey's mother-in-law said Jeffrey would surely have been killed had she been driving a smaller vehicle.  

According to Capt. Andy Lum, Honolulu police continue to investigate the crash, but so far no charges have been filed.

Kupukaa is survived by her mother and father, Janelle and Paul Kupukaa, and four siblings.


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