By Wendy Osher
Dozens of community members joined in a procession up Main Street in Wailuku today, as they walked together in a silent vigil held in honor of a Maui boy who died last week in a suspected case of abuse.
Imua Family Services Executive Director, Dean Wong, who joined in hosting the event said, “We are just trying to remember this child for who he is and the short life that he had so that he would not be forgotten.”
Four year old Zion McKeown was taken to the hospital last week after being found unresponsive. He died the next day with an autopsy showing blunt force trauma to his abdomen.
Zion’s father Kyle McKeown, and his live-in girlfriend, Grace Lee-Nakamoto, were charged with second-degree murder in connection to the incident, but were released on their own recognizance until a preliminary hearing next month.
“People don’t want to have this kind of violence in our island–on our island of Maui that we love so much. We cherish our island, we cherish our community,” said Wong.
Wong joined Stacey Moniz, the Executive Director of Women Helping Women in initiating the conversation to do something to give people an opportunity to express their grief. “That’s really what today was about. We literally organized this within 24 hours,” said Wong.
“The whole community was devastated by the death of Zion–a four year old child,” said Moniz. “We wanted to do something to honor his memory and to give the community an opportunity share their grief and their sadness,” said Moniz.
“Somehow when you come together and share collectively, it helps heal a little bit, and you feel that you’re being heard.”
Moniz said the event provided an opportunity for people to share their grief and frustration, sadness and anger; and also to educate the community about child abuse and domestic violence.