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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 2:38 p.m., Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Service planned for Texas boy killed in Maui crash

The Maui News

WAILUKU — With Hawaiian canoes as escorts, family and friends will toss flowers Sunday off a catamaran and into the ocean as part of a memorial service for an 8-year-old boy who died in a car crash in June, The Maui News reported.

The death of Will Smith, a boy from San Antonio who visited Maui regularly, has drawn a lot of interest from people here, according to Jo Ann Aki, a family friend and owner of Emerald Club Realty Inc.

"People just feel it's a tragic loss and no one should die at 8 years old, not a visitor, not any age, for reckless driving," Aki said.

Will was a passenger in a car driven by his mother, Susan Moulton, when they were struck by an oncoming car driven by a woman who lost control of her vehicle, veered off the roadway, then went into the opposite lane of traffic on the morning of June 3 near Ukumehame Wayside Park, police said.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case, but police suspect that speeding and reckless driving by the 23-year-old Lahaina woman behind the wheel of the oncoming car contributed to the crash.

"It's the senseless death that's hard for everyone," Aki said. "They're such a sweet family who had such a major loss."

Moulton, who was contacted by telephone Monday on the Mainland, said that while Will's burial has already been held in her hometown of San Marcos, Texas, she believed it was appropriate to hold a service on the island that he loved.

"To me, Maui is a second home. ... Will loved Maui. This is his last legacy right here," Moulton said.

At the time of the crash, Moulton and Will had been heading to Makawao to meet her older son, Charlie Moulton, and her boyfriend, Charles Weston. Weston and Charlie, 19, had been on a downhill bicycle tour that morning.

Aside from his mother and half brother, Will Smith is survived by his father, Shorty Smith of Fowlerton, Texas.

Will had spent the last five days of his life enjoying Maui's beaches and "swimming to exhaustion," according to Moulton.

Moulton said she's touched by the overwhelming support and expressions of condolences she has been receiving from her Maui friends and "new friends" who learned of Will's death in the media.

"This little boy has touched so many lives," she said. "It's incredible."

Moulton said she's especially grateful for the support shown by Aki and Maui Police Department visitor-oriented policing officer Lawrence Kauha'aha'a, who together helped to plan Will's memorial service here.

"They've been incredibly supportive," she said.

Aki has helped to prepare for Sunday's service, including the task of getting the word out about the event. Numerous businesses have offered to donate beverages and other supplies needed for the service.

"We're getting support from all over," Aki said.

The service will start at 9 a.m. on the beach in front of Whaler's Village. About 45 relatives and friends will board a catamaran to toss flowers into the ocean and then return to Kaanapali Alii, where Moulton owns a unit and where refreshments will be served.

"It'll be a happy occasion, not a sad one," Moulton said. She plans to bring photographs and video from Will's funeral in Texas, and other family memorabilia. "It would give everyone a chance to learn more about Will."

Moulton reiterated Monday her hopes that Will's death will highlight attention to the best use of seat belts and booster seats to safeguard children while riding in cars, and deter speeding and aggressive driving.

Will Smith was riding in the front passenger seat with his safety belt buckled. An autopsy report indicated the rental car seat belt was "not a good fit" for the boy, who was 4-feet-1 and weighed 60 pounds.

He was in compliance with Hawai'i law requiring children 7 and younger to be a booster seat, but child safety experts recommend children under 4-feet-9 remain in booster seats, even if they are older than 7.

"I miss Will, of course, but I also have to believe that this has happened for a purpose," Moulton said.

Moulton has established a charitable foundation in honor of her son, with proceeds to help with either developing a trauma center on Maui or supporting the enforcement of reckless driving and speeding on local roadways.

Donations to the Will Smith Charitable Foundation can be sent to Emerald Club Realty Inc., 2145 Wells St., Suite 102B, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Partly in response to public concerns raised after Will Smith's death, Maui police announced late last month plans to target major highways in a crackdown on aggressive driving. Lt. Bobby Hill, commander of the Traffic Section, cited the case among a number of serious traffic crashes that have occurred this year in announcing the stepped-up enforcement effort.

At least a dozen traffic and patrol officers will be on special assignment during day and night hours to look for drivers who speed, pass on the right side of the road and engage in other types of aggressive driving that put all motorists on the roads at risk, Hill said.

The increased enforcement will include Honoapi'ilani, Pi'ilani, Kuihelani, Mokulele and Haleakala highways. Hill said the special enforcement will be in addition to ongoing DUI enforcement.

Once the special operation is completed, police will evaluate how it worked and look toward developing programs that keep drivers from engaging in reckless behavior.

For more Maui news, visit The Maui News.