Kahuku football coach Kahalepuna, 43, passes away after battling COVID-19

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Kahuku community is mourning the death of an assistant football coach, and beloved community member.

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Maui Kahalepuna died over the weekend after battling COVID-19.

The Kahuku alumnus wore many hats as a father, husband, brother, and coach.

Maui would start work at his job at TSA at 2:00 am. After getting off at 1:30, he would pick up his daughter from school before heading to Kahuku football practice at 3:00 pm.

“After practice he wouldn’t get home until like 8:30, 9:00,” Maui’s brother Paliku said. “Then he’d eat dinner, go to bed and start all over again. I was like ‘You’re crazy when do you sleep?'”

An educator on the football field since his coaching career began with the Red Raiders in 2000.

Maui always wanted to learn so he could teach.

“That was his thing,” fellow Kahuku assistant coach Rocky Savaiigaea said. “he just always wanted to be the best coach he could be so he could pass it on to the kids.”

Maui became ill with COVID-19 in the second week November.

He left his home to stay in a COVID-19 hotel to isolate so he didn’t spread the virus to his family. He was especially cautious with his new grandson Alika-Leafi in the house.

“It made sense that he would go check into a hotel to keep everybody safe because he really loved that grandbaby,” Maui’s sister Kumai said.

He was hospitalized at Queen’s Medical Center after nurses found his oxygen levels dropped too low.

“That was just shocking to all of us, his decline and how rapid it was,” Kumai said.

The next day he was sent to the intensive care unit.

Eventually he was only able to send text messages because he was having trouble speaking.

“I could hear the he was scared,” Paliku said. “Which made me scared because my brother wasn’t scared of anybody.”

Maui passed away on Saturday. The words of the Kahuku Alma Mater “We’ll cherish, love, and honor thee” is the Red Raider spirit right now as the community mourns.

“It was so fast,” Paliku said. “We had Maui with us and then he was not with us anymore.”

Kumai had beaten COVID-19 herself with very mild symptoms. She admits getting frustrated with mask wearing and recovery rates, which the CDC estimates at 99%. Now, she says that with COVID-19 you never know.

“When you hear on the news it’s numbers until it hits home,” Kumai said. “It’s actually families. There’s other families that have gone through this. So you never know until it hits you.”

The TSA has released the following statement on the death of Lead Transportation Security Officer Maui Kahalepuna:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is saddened by the loss of Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) Lead Transportation Security Officer Maui Kahalepuna, who passed away on December 12, 2020, after contracting COVID-19.

Kahalepuna joined TSA in September 2002 among Honolulu’s first class of officers assisting with the initial rollout of screening. He most recently worked as a checked baggage screener, and he was admired by his co-workers. Away from work, Kahalepuna was a proud husband, father and grandfather. 

TSA offers heartfelt condolences to Officer Kahalepuna’s family, friends and his TSA colleagues. He is the 11th TSA employee to pass away from COVID-19. While he will be remembered fondly for his service, his death serves to remind everyone of the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. We remain committed to continuing our work toward protecting our workforce and airline travelers.

Transportation Security Administration

The Kahalepuna family is accepting help for their funeral costs and funeral expenses.

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