10-year-old struck, killed on way from school as family watches in horror

A Hawaii 10-year-old is being remembered for her happy, outgoing spirit after she was killed Wednesday afternoon as she walked home from school.

Janexty "Ulu" Kaaloa's mother and other relatives, waiting to greet her in front of their family-owned store in Honaunau, saw the entire accident unfold before their eyes, reported Hawaii News Now.

Ulu’s mother, Julie Kaaloa, told the news station her daughter knew how to be safe while walking to and from school, an independent activity that she loved. The family’s store, Kaaloa Super J’s, was less than half a mile from her elementary school, but she had to cross the highway to get there and back.

"She knows the rule, and she usually waits," Kaaloa said. "She waits until she can't see any cars."

The excitement of seeing her relatives waiting for her seemed to be too much for the fifth-grader on Wednesday, and she crossed the street without looking both ways, her mother said. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that she was struck by a Jeep pickup truck driven by William Herndon, 61, of Captain Cook.

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Kaaloa and one of her sisters, Ulu’s aunt, ran to her and cradled her in their arms, the newspaper said. An off-duty firefighter and an off-duty nurse performed CPR until paramedics arrived, but the girl was pronounced dead about an hour after the crash.

The Star Advertiser reported that Herndon was arrested on suspicion of negligent homicide but released pending additional investigation. It was not immediately known if speed was a factor in the accident.

Another of Ulu’s aunts, Jevon Kaaloa Matsuyama, told the newspaper that her niece loved movies and Japanese anime. She was also an avid reader.

Hawaii News Now reported that Ulu was a fixture at her family's store, where, by the age of 3, she was asking customers for their names and phone numbers because she was learning to write.

"I think God loved her so much, and he must love me, too, because he gave her to me to raise her and to love her for the short time she was here," Kaaloa told the news station.

Ulu’s mother said she did not blame Herndon, who she described as “just a man going home from work.” She said her family has no ill will toward him.

"I wish I knew who he was so I could give him a big hug because I can just imagine the pain that he must be in to be responsible," Kaaloa said. "To take the life of a little girl, who had so many people who loved her. But he was the one (who) was chosen to send her back to home to our heavenly father."

Family and friends mourned the little girl's death on social media.

Julie was my childhood friend and we all walked along side those streets in Honaunau together. What a strong women of...

Posted by Nani Widmer on Thursday, November 3, 2016


Posted by Lehnjay Banagan-williams on Thursday, November 3, 2016

My heart sends prayers to Julie Kaaloa and your Ohana. I am so sorry for your loss. May you all be held in Gods loving embrace as you go forth.

Posted by Mona Kaualoku Akeo Livsey on Wednesday, November 2, 2016