KAHULUI, MAUI – The Department of Fire & Public Safety and the Fire & Public Safety Commission are proud to announce this year’s recipients of the Kahuola Awards. The recipients were presented with their awards during the Fire & Public Safety Commission’s monthly meeting on March 12, 2015. Kahuola Awards have been given to individuals within the County of Maui who have demonstrated heroic acts to save a life. Each award is hand-crafted by local ukulele crafter Leroy Hokoana. Since its creation in 2004, there have only been sixteen recipients of this prestigious award.
Taje Akaka-Foster was 15 years old on July 27, 2014 when he witnessed an elderly man fall into the ocean off of Kamaole Beach Park. Akaka-Foster, with the assistance of his younger brother Chayce, managed to pull the struggling man out of the water and onto the rocks where another witness performed CPR on the victim. “Taje demonstrated skill and courage while performing this selfless act. His actions gave this man, a complete stranger, every chance for survival,” said Fire Fighter Jeffrey Robson in his nomination.
Deputy Corporation Counsel James Giroux was involved in a tragic plane crash on the island of Lana’i on February 26, 2014, which involved five County of Maui employees and the pilot of their chartered plane. Although sustaining injuries from the crash, Giroux managed to pull two of his coworkers from the burning plane, saving their lives. He also contacted emergency services personnel and directed them to the area of the plane crash. “Mr. Giroux, acting without regard for his own safety, returned to the wreckage not once, but twice, to rescue and render assistance to his injured colleagues. His actions that day were truly heroic.” said Gen Iinuma in his nomination.
The final recipient of this year’s award was Fire Fighter II James Owen Deatrick, who was off-duty on October 4, 2014 when he witnessed a brutal stabbing at his housing complex. Deatrick subdued the assailant and provided medical attention to the victim until the arrival of emergency services personnel.
Fire & Public Safety Commission Chair William “Butch” Soares said “We are pleased and proud to recognize these three outstanding citizens that took action to save another’s life. It shows that we have caring, positive-action members within our County and honoring them is a small reward for their actions. Three young men with great values and sense of being.”
“The Department lauds these heroic men for their extraordinary actions to save someone else’s life. Without regard for their own safety, these men put their own lives in harm’s way, to save the life of another. Their actions exemplify great heroism, and we are proud to be able to recognize them for their courage and selflessness,” said Fire Chief Jeff Murray.
To find out more about the Kahuola Awards program, or to find out how to submit a nomination, please visit our website for details or contact the Fire Chief’s Office at (808) 270-7561.