10 Maui Residents Honored with Prestigious Kahu’ola Awards

March 10, 2011, 3:45 PM HST · Updated March 10, 3:45 PM
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By Wendy Osher

A total of 10 Maui residents were recognized today with the County of Maui Fire and Public Safety Commission’s highest honor. The Kahu’ola Award, literally translated as “Guardian of Life” recognizes those who go beyond the call of duty by performing a selfless life-saving act.

“It’s not very often we have situations where we can present awards of this nature for tragic situations that were completely avoided by the actions of individuals,” said Maui Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray.

“For some reason maybe that you cannot explain, you became someone’s guardian at a special time,” Maui Fire and Public Safety Commission Chair, Stacy Crivello said to recipients at today’s ceremony. “With humble gratitude, we appreciate all that you’ve done,” said Crivello.

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The awards come after three separate incidents in 2010: two Kahului home fires, and an ocean rescue in Ke’anae. Award recipients include Gerald Barroga, Garret Benito, Ronell Galo, Brisen Gonsalves, Kai Ha’ole, Kelly Ha’ole, Aukai Hu’eu, Jeremy “Lako” Miller, Brian Nakao, and Kelsey Sato.

(L to R) Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, Kelsey Sato, Brian Nakao, Ronell Galo, Gerald Barroga, Brisen Gonsalves, Jeremy "Lako" Miller, Aukai Hu'eu, Kelly Ha'ole, Maui Fire & Public Safety Commission Chair Stacy Crivello, and Maui Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray. (Not pictured: Kahu'ola recipients Garret Benito and Kai Ha'ole) Photo by Wendy Osher.

Maui Police Officer Garret Benito and Brisen Gonsalves were recognized for their efforts in pulling an elderly couple from a home fire in Kahului on September 21, 2010. “Without hesitation, these two individuals put themselves into the burning structure to save two lives,” said Captain Kapala Novikoff, who joined the MFD Engine 10 Crew in making the nomination. A preliminary investigation determined that the fire was accidental and caused by an electrical source.

Four others were honored for their assistance in the rescue of a Kahului woman from a separate home fire on September 1, 2010. Honored for their efforts are Gerald Barroga, Ronell Galo, Brian Nakao and Kelsey Sato.

(L to R) Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, Maui Fire & Public Safety Chair Stacy Crivello, Kahu'ola Recipient Brisen Gonsalves, and Maui Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The remaining honorees were recognized for their efforts in saving the lives of a mother and son in rough surf off Ke’anae on Valentine’s Day last year. Cousins Jeremy “Lako” Miller and Aukai Hu’eu, and brothers Kai and Kelly Ha’ole were nominated for recognition by former East Maui Council Member Bill Kauakea Medeiros for their brave acts on Sunday, February 14, 2010.

The Kahu’ola Award is one of two distinctive honors issued by the commission—the other is the Kahu’aina Award, which recognizes nominees for providing assistance in the preservation of land or property. Nominations are presented to the fire chief, and are forwarded to the Fire and Public Safety Commission for review.

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