Parents stand behind boyfriend after daughter’s fatal fall from moving vehicle

Published On: Jan 09 2014 05:44:00 PM HST

The parents of a young Kapolei woman who died four days after exiting her boyfriend's moving pickup truck on Mokapu Saddle Road in Kailua don't believe he had anything to do with her death.

Click here to watch Andrew Pereira's story.

Darrell and Paula Bussell spoke to KITV4 Thursday afternoon about the tragic incident that claimed the life of their daughter, 21-year-old Lea Bussell, who was left brain dead after she struck the pavement.

"We don't feel Trey did any harm to her. It's just a senseless, tragic accident that happened to our daughter," said Darrell Bussell. "Trey was at the hospital these past four days beside her as we were, and we have no feelings that he did anything bad to her."

According to police, Bussell was a passenger in Edward Bruffey's pickup truck Sunday afternoon when at least one witness saw her tumble from the vehicle just before 2 p.m.  Bruffey, 26, has been charged with drunken driving as a result of the incident and was arrested for criminal property damage in the third degree for an earlier, unrelated case. Police spokeswoman Michelle Yu said investigators continue to look into the fatal fall that killed Bussell.

According to her parents, Bussell was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of traumatic abuse she suffered earlier in life, and that may have played a role in the incident that claimed her life. They said Bussell and Bruffey were involved in a heated argument prior to her exiting his vehicle. The couple had known each other for the past four to five years, but only started dating four months ago.

"I just truly believe that it was just an accident that happened, and they were in the wrong place at the wrong time," said the victim's mother. "Maybe (she) made poor decisions, poor judgments and that's what caused this to happen."

The Bussells don't want other parents to suffer the heartache they are now experiencing and stressed the importance of communicating with children who may be suffering emotional issues.

"Don't label them, don't bully them (and) don't call them names," said Darrell Bussell. "Just like a bad leg, a bad brain can be fixed."

The Bussells made the difficult decision to remove their daughter from life support after being told by doctors she would remain in a vegetative state. Although Lea Bussell was an organ donor, doctors were unable to harvest her organs because she remained alive more than 12 hours after the life-inducing machines were turned off. Protocol requires organs to be harvested within an hour after a person dies.

"She defied life when she was alive and she defied death," said Darrell Bussell.

Bussell's family has set up a website to help pay for their daughter's medical costs. The website can be found at:

A memorial service for Bussell, the couple's only child, has been tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 16.

"I had the opportunity of being there when she took her last breath, but I'll miss her," said Paula Bussell.


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