Families begin to identify relatives who died in Lahaina fire; hundreds more ‘unaccounted for’

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Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said Monday only three people have been positively identified — by fingerprints — out of the 99 confirmed deceased in the Lahaina fire. He said public notification would begin on Tuesday after families were notified.

But the names of people who died are now beginning to become public by their family members.

GoFundMe said there are several “verified fundraisers” that have been created to support the families of the victims who tragically lost their lives:

Faaso and Malui Fonua Tone, Salote Takafua, 7-year-old Tony Takafua

Faaso and Malui Fonua Tone, Salote Takafua, 7-year-old Tony Takafua

The GoFundMe — Help the Tanaka-Tone ʻOhana Recovery After Tragedy — said: “Saane’s parents Faaso and Malui Fonua Tone, sister Salote Takafua and 7-year-old nephew Tony Takafua were tragically killed while attempting to flee the Lahaina wildfire. They were discovered Thursday morning in a burned-out car near their home. Words cannot express how devastating this is for the family, many who have lost everything.”

Saane and Kevin Tanaka are now sheltering the rest of the 16 to 20 family member who were able to evacuate in time in their new home.


Joseph Schilling

Joseph Schilling

The GoFundMe — The Loving Memory of Joseph Schilling — said: “Joe passed while aiding in evacuating five elderly people in his housing complex. Joe passed as a HERO. His character showed until his very last moments. To everybody who had the pleasure of meeting my Uncle Joe, count your lucky stars; rarely do you get to meet such a genuine soul.”

It continues: “Let me tell you about the man he was. Caring, outgoing, funny, easygoing, joyous, and LOVING. Joe was informally adopted into the Bluh Family, and it makes my heart full knowing how much of a blessing it is to say that. From the time me and my four brothers were born, Uncle Joe was a second father to us. He was known as “Funcle Joe” for a reason. Whether it be the trips to go bullet shell hunting or staying up late while my parents were gone so he could sneak us his famous sugar toast, he was always willing to act out of love and kindness towards myself and my brothers.”

Carole Hartley

Carol Paxton-Hartley

The GoFundMe — Paxton Ohana Fire Relief Fund — was created by Ali’i Nui and Maui Dive Shop ‘Ohana and said: “With deep sadness, we inform you that Carole Paxton-Hartley’s life was taken by the true devastation. We have no words to ease the pain and sadness among Carole’s family and friends and most of all, Charles [Paxton].”


According to an ABC News report, her body was found by her longtime partner Charles on their property. The couple were separated as they tried to flee the flames, Hartley’s sister Donna told the news outlet.

The sister said she was told by Charles that he and Carole were about to get in their truck when it exploded in front of them. He told Carole to run and thought she was in front of him but he never saw her again. Charles suffered third-degree burns.

Donna Gomes

A GoFundMe — GOMES Ohana Recovering from Lahaina Fires — said: “My name is Tehani Kuhaulua, the oldest grandchild of Donna Gomes, making this campaign on behalf of my immediate family members. As we all know about the horrifying drastic life-changing event that took place on August 8th, 2023. Along with many other long-term Lahaina grown residents, we as well have lost everything.

“Not only have we lost our homes but our family is also grieving the loss of our family backbone, Donna L. Gomes.”


Franklin Trejos, 68

Franklin Trejos

According to ABC News, Costa Rica native Franklin Trejos had been living for several years on Maui with Shannon Weber-Bogar and her husband, Geoff Bogar. When the fire began, Trejos and Bogar stayed behind to try to save the house and help their neighbors.

The ABC News account said they eventually tried to escape in separate cars. Bogar’s car wouldn’t start, but he was rescued by police and taken to a local hospital. The next day, he returned to find Trejos’ body inside another car on top of a beloved 3-year-old golden retriever named Sam.

Terri Thomas, 61

Terri Thomas

KTEN in Texas reported the death of Terri Thomas.

Terra Thomas, the victim’s niece, released this statement on behalf of her family:

“My aunt’s name was Terri Elaine Thomas. She was born July 6, 1961.

Our family was informed by eyewitness account that Terri was attempting to evacuate with an elderly neighbor, a male friend and Terri’s beloved dogs. Their vehicle was unable to move, and as flames rapidly approached their SUV, one of the passengers fled the vehicle. However, my aunt was unable to exit, leaving her stranded as the fire engulfed her vehicle. Explosions were happening everywhere with four walls of fire all around them. Her vehicle was later ID’d by a neighbor, who saw the remains of my aunt and her female friend.

Terri was a beautiful, loving and caring member of our family, and member of the Lahaina community for nearly 30 years. She was outgoing, funny and always willing to extend help to others in need.

Our family has many questions on how this scenario unfolded. We want answers to what happened, and why there were no evacuation alerts that could have prevented the loss of Terri and her fellow friends and neighbors.”

For many other people, the not knowing has been heart-wrenching for hundreds of people trying to learn if their missing family members and friends are among those who perished in the fire — or if they are safe and just don’t have a way to receive or return calls, texts and emails.

No official list of missing people has been publicized.

But the American Red Cross is coordinating reunification efforts: call 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select Option 4.

As of Monday morning, the American Red Cross in Hawai’i had received approximately 2,500 calls “looking to reunite with loved ones,” said Chris Young, senior director of operations, readiness and planning.

Some of those calls could be for the same person. About 800 people have been located, Young said.

But private individuals have been putting together public lists and pages on social media trying to connect frantic people with those who have not been accounted for.

A crowdsourced public missing person spreadsheet was created by Ellie Erickson. As of Monday evening, it had 5,406 people on it. The majority had been located, but 1,145 people were listed as “Not Located.”

Eight people on the list were identified as being deceased, including six people named in this article and two others who Maui Now has not been able to immediately confirm by a second source.

On Facebook, a page also was created called Maui Fires People Finder, a community driven resource for folks looking for their loved ones.

Pelletier said the process of positively identifying the remains of the 99 people already found will be difficult. The fire was so hot it melted metal and burned buildings and people beyond recognition.

He asked anyone who is missing a family member to go to the Family Assistance Center at 275 Uhu St. in Kahului to provide the names and also give a DNA sample. It is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Pelletier also said family members who are outside of Maui should contact the Maui police so that arrangements can be made to give a DNA sample to law enforcement where they live.

And, the number of deceased is still likely to go up.

Cadaver-sniffing dogs had searched only 25% of the impacted area in Lahaina as of Monday. But with 20 dogs and 90 people in FEMA search and rescue teams now working the area, the search should go quicker. But it will still be done “pono” and respectful, Pelletier said.


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