Sign Waving Honors Memory of Hannah Brown

November 26, 2019, 10:33 PM HST · Updated November 27, 9:26 AM
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Family members of Hannah Brown hold a large sign decorated with her photograph. Photo by ʻAʻaliʻi Dukelow.

As the holiday season approaches, law enforcement officials are hoping to spread a simple, yet life saving message–donʻt drink and drive.

On Tuesday aftenoon, the family of Hannah Brown, who was killed in an alcohol-related car collision in June, teamed up with Maui police to hold a sign waving in an effort to remind the public of the dangers of drunk driving.

Brown would have celebrated her 20th birthday this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

“We would like to not have to do this, but it seems as if it’s got to be done,” Hannahʻs father Everett Brown said frankly during todayʻs event, standing alongside Hannahʻs mother Charlene.

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“I donʻt know if you can raise enough awareness about this,” Brown added.

Amongst the dozens of friends, family and community members who lined the shoulder of Puʻunēnē Avenue with signs in hand were Lea and Stanley Aquino, who lost their son Jonah Ragsdale to a drunk driver on Oʻahu last year.

“That was the worst thing you could ever, ever hear,” Lea Aquino recalled, explaining that she and Stanley received the news while spending a weekend on Kauaʻi.

Ragsdale, originally from Oʻahu, spent all four years of high school as a boarder at Lahainaluna, where Brown was also a student.

Both families agreed that raising awareness on drunk driving helps them cope with the loss of the two young lives cut short by the senseless act.

“I don’t want my daughter’s death to go in vain,” Everett Brown said. “I don’t want to be this person, but I’ll be this person so that other people don’t have to be.”

Maui police officials say they are ramping up enforcement efforts to combat impaired driving.

“There’s never a shortage of impaired drivers out there,” Lt. William Hankins said, adding that seven people were arrested for driving under the influence on Halloween night alone.

“That tells me that there’s no fear of consequence.”

But Hankins noted that the police department and lawmakers are looking to adopt an ordinance that would allow enforcement officials to tow the vehicles of those arrested for impaired driving. The registered owner of the vehicle would then be responsible for paying the tow charges.

“We’ve had arrests where people got arrested, they bail out, they go back to get in their car, they get into a crash or they get arrested again in the same night,” Hawkins said.

“We want to be able to stop these things, basically take away the means of transportation, take away the weapon. We need to start changing laws.”

Hannah Brownʻs death was Mauiʻs 11th traffic fatality. Since then, there have been 10 more.

Last week, Maui police and the Brown family held the inaugural Hannah Brown Memorial Impaired Driving Checkpoint, which will be held annually before the holiday season.

Organizers hope the measure could prevent any further deaths from drunk driving.

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