Thursday, February 1, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, February 1, 2001

Visitor needs money to take son's body home to Ecuador

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Leonora Cruz’ family in Ecuador scraped up enough money so she could be with her seriously injured son in Hawaii.

Oscar, 24, was involved in a surfing accident at Sunset Beach last Thursday and was under water for nearly 15 minutes. He was rushed to Castle Medical Center, where he was placed on a life-support system.

Leonora Cruz arrived in Hawaii on Saturday, when doctors broke the news to her that her son was brain-dead. Two days later, Oscar Cruz was taken off of the machines.

As of late yesterday, he was breathing on his own, but doctors said when he was taken off the machines that he wasn’t expected to survive for more than a few days.

Cruz wants to take her son’s body back to Ecuador. St. Ann’s and St. Anthony’s churches have donated $1,000 and Williams Funeral Services has offered a discount to prepare the body.

But with barely enough money to fly here, Cruz has nothing left to pay for the cost of flying her son home.

Alberto Maldonado, a native of Ecuador, is helping Cruz with the funeral arrangements. Maldonado has chipped in some money, but said another $1,000 is needed to pay for the airfare to send Oscar Cruz home.

"I’m really just doing it out of my own because I can see how helpless she is. She’s in a state of shock," Maldonado said. "My family is from Ecuador, so I’m willing to do whatever it takes."

Maldonado said he didn’t know of Oscar Cruz until the accident. But he said he has a bond with his fellow Ecuadorian.

"He reminds me of me when I came here 15 years ago. It’s the goal of every young surfer in South America to make it to Hawaii," Maldonado said. "He finally did it after five years of saving money, and he was only here 12 days when that happened."

The nonprofit group Visitors Aloha Society of Hawaii is helping the Cruz family raise the money.

Anyone who would like to help can send a check to Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, 250 Lewers St., Honolulu, HI 96815, Attention Oscar Cruz.

For information, call VASH at 926-8274.

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