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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Victim called a likable 'rascal'

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Leeward O'ahu Writer

He had dreams of becoming a lifeguard and a firefighter, and once, as a little boy, he tried to save a playmate trapped inside a burning shed.

Keoni Brick

But the aspirations of Keoni Brick, 13, a Kapolei Middle School seventh-grader and popular "rascal," came to an end Sunday when he was struck and killed by a truck as he tried to dash across Farrington Highway near Kahe Point Beach Park.

He was the third person — and second child — to be killed in the past three years at this especially treacherous strip on one of the most dangerous highways in the state.

Yesterday, Keoni was remembered fondly.

"Everybody says the same thing about him," said Sean Tajima, Kapolei Middle School vice principal and Keoni's former counselor: "'He was rascal. He was funny. He made me laugh.'

"Keoni was popular," Tajima said. "Girls liked him. Boys liked him. Everybody liked him, actually."

That included his teachers and administrators, said principal Annette Nishikawa — despite the fact that Keoni got in trouble at school, was a frequent visitor to the principal's office and would have been repeating the seventh grade this year.

"He just didn't like to study," Nishikawa said.

"He was just overly playful," added Tajima.

Keoni's mother, Judy Brick, described her son as an outdoors type who was passionate about fishing.

"He got in trouble, but he was really a good boy," Brick, 33, said.

Brick, a divorced mother of two, said Keoni and two young friends were crabbing on the beach Sunday between Kahe Point Park and Ko Olina Resort when they caught a large 'alakuma, or seven eleven crab.

She said Keoni wanted to take the crab's huge claw to show his favorite uncle, Randy Asuncion, who lives near the Bricks' residence in Honokai Hale.

With claw in hand, Keoni ran toward his bicycle, parked on the mauka side of the four-lane highway. He got only as far as the middle lane before he was struck by a town-bound pickup shortly before 8 p.m., Brick said.

He was taken to The Queen's Medical Center, where he died about six hours later.

Police are investigating the accident.

Dangerous highway

• More than 80 people have been killed in traffic accidents on Farrington Highway between Honokai Hale and Ka'ena Point since 1990.

• In the same area where Keoni was hit, an 85-year-old man was struck and killed last year, and a 7-year-old Nanakuli boy was killed as he tried to cross the highway in 2001.

Although Keoni almost never spoke about it, he was affected by an incident that happened when he was only 7, his mother said. The family was living in Nanakuli in May 1998 when an 8-year-old neighbor girl accidentally set on fire a shed that she had converted into a playhouse.

Keoni, hearing the girl's screams, ran for help. As neighbors rushed to extinguish the playhouse with a water hose, Keoni tried to throw buckets of water on the burning structure.

"She was already screaming and he was, like, trying to throw a bucket at a time on the fire," Brick said. "He was pretty young, but he was affected because he couldn't get her out."

The girl died in the fire.

Brick said the family is arranging services for Keoni at the end of this month.

Keoni also leaves behind his father, Matt Brick, 34, of Las Vegas, and younger brother Chance.

Judy Brick said Chance was taking the death of his big brother pretty hard.

"I'm OK," Chance said quietly.

Keoni's friends also were affected by his death.

Tajima said several of Keoni's classmates came to school yesterday even though they don't begin classes until Sept. 7. They wanted to express memories about their friend, he said.

Brick said she has received a lot of phone calls since the accident. One parent called to say he was really sad when he heard about Keoni's death, she said. He told her how he once chaperoned a birthday party Keoni attended and how the boy made a point of thanking him after he gave Keoni a ride home.

A lot of Keoni's friends have called, too, she said.

Nearly every one made the same comment: "Keoni always made me laugh."

Reach Will Hoover at 525-8038 or whoover@honoluluadvertiser.com.