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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Death of star athlete John Siofele mourned

By Shayna Coleon and Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writers

Family members and friends yesterday mourned the death of John Siofele, an honor student and star athlete from Saint Louis School who was killed in a bus-car collision in Nanakuli early yesterday.

John Siofele, an honor student and star athlete, was killed early yesterday on Farrington Highway when the car he was driving struck a city bus.

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Siofele, 18, of 'Ewa Beach, had a football scholarship to the University of Hawai'i. He was a recipient of the Lumana'i Award, a scholarship for youth of Samoan ancestry, and planned to major in computer science at UH.

"He was very humble about everything he did, and he would even tutor his friends if they needed help," said an older sister, Setema Siofele. "We were really proud and happy for him."

Police said Siofele was driving a 1991 Volkswagen Jetta toward Honolulu on Farrington Highway when the car crossed the center line and hit a Makaha-bound city bus about 4:06 a.m.

Siofele had been driving in the far right lane of the four-lane highway when he changed lanes, continued over the center line and hit the bus, which was slowing at a bus stop 20 feet north of Haleakala Avenue, police said.

The front end of the Jetta was demolished. Siofele was pronounced dead at the scene. He was the only person in the car.

The bus was beginning its first run of the day. It was empty and its 61-year-old driver was not hurt, bus officials said.

Police said speed may have been a factor.

The Rev. Allen DeLong, president of Saint Louis School, said Siofele was a leader in the campus ministry and "a really all-around Renaissance man."

Siofele was a group leader in the school's Emmaus Retreat, a program in which juniors assess their relationship with their parents and God, DeLong said.

Firefighters yesterday extricated the body of John Siofele from a wrecked 1991 Volkswagen Jetta that crashed into a Makaha-bound bus along Farrington Highway. Siofele was pronounced dead at the scene.

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"He was more mature, he had a quiet leadership," DeLong said. "The boys looked to him as how to behave."

Siofele also excelled on the football field. In February, Siofele signed a letter of intent to play for UH. The 6-foot, 260-pound defensive lineman was a co-captain for Saint Louis' Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship team. He was a second-team all-ILH selection.

"He was a great kid, and this is a tremendous loss," UH football coach June Jones said. "It's just a tragedy. We were looking forward to him joining our team. Right now, I feel for his family. Our hearts and thoughts and prayers are with his family and the whole Saint Louis family."

UH receivers coach Ron Lee said Siofele had been training at UH in preparation for next month's workouts.

"I saw him last week, Thursday and Friday," Lee said. "I feel so sick. Why do these things happen? He's such a great kid, the nicest kid you'll ever meet. I told Cal (Lee) I feel sick for the whole family. He was a good student — a 3.7, 3.8 student. He was a quiet kid who worked hard. He was so humble. I feel so bad for the folks, for everybody. I was hoping that it was a mistake."

Retired Saint Louis coach Cal Lee said Siofele "was such a likeable guy."

"You look at him and he always gave you a smile," Cal Lee said. "That made your day."

Siofele played for the Crusaders varsity for three years, the last two as a starter, Cal Lee said. Siofele also participated in track and field.

Saint Louis classmate Ross Dickerson, an all-state receiver, was shocked at hearing of Siofele's death. Like Siofele, Dickerson was going to UH on a football scholarship.

"We were supposed to dorm together," Dickerson said.

The two had grown up in Waipahu and attended Waipahu elementary and intermediate schools before attending Saint Louis.

Siofele had recently returned from Arizona, where he visited his older brother, Joseph (Saint Louis '99), a starting linebacker for the Arizona Wildcats, said Ron Lee.

In April, John was one of nine high school seniors of Samoan ancestry to receive a $500 scholarship for receiving the Lumana'i Award, an honors program of the Nu'u Ministry of the United Church of Christ.

Siofele was named an outstanding scholar-athlete by the Hawai'i chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in May.

The accident was the 38th traffic death on O'ahu this year, compared to 39 at this time last year.