A beloved North Shore crossing guard continues to recover at a Kuakini Medical Center.
Tony Samuels, 58, was found unresponsive on the side of Kamehameha Highway around 5 a.m. last Wednesday.
Witnesses told Emergency Medical Services and Honolulu Police that he fell.
“It’s great to be alive still, I don’t know what happened to me, but I came really close to death, but I’m alive and well,” Samuels said from his hospital bed on Thursday.
He has some memory loss from the fall but is eager to return to his job as a crossing guard at Sunset Beach Elementary School.
A job he’s been doing for 12 years.
KHON2 asked why he wanted to be a crossing guard in the first place.
“I thought it was important to keep the kids safe,” he said. “Where they cross, it’s a very dangerous road and the cars go quite fast at times, so I take my job very seriously and I enjoy it very much.”
Kids ride their bikes across the busy highway daily before and after school.
On Thursday, a police officer came to help direct traffic, but parents are looking for a temporary crossing guard immediately until Samuels returns.
“There have been several times in the past week with him being gone and you see kids getting ready to dart out [across the highway], and you’re like, ‘Oh I hope that car sees him,’ it’s just it’s a little scary not having Tony here,” said parent Teri Davis.
“He’s a valuable part that you kind of take for granted because he was always here and you don’t always notice necessarily until he’s not so that was kind of an eye-opener to see how much he does for the community,” she said.
Students have been sending him get well soon cards.
“It’s so amazing, I just feel so loved and so appreciated,” Samuels said.
“I just love my job so much and I appreciate everything in my life, such a wonderful life,” he said.
He said he can’t wait to go back to work and be there for the kids.
“I’m hoping to be back as soon as possible,” he said.
HPD said they are working with the school to fill the crossing guard position as soon as possible and that an officer will be assisting the school when possible.
Police are asking drivers to be extra attentive when in the area and look out for children.
Many parents have volunteered to help but because it is a highway the crossing guard needs to go through HPD training first. But parents want something sooner than later.
“All it takes is one day and have a group of kids crossing and someone’s looking at the beach and don’t notice and hit a whole group of kids, what’s going to happen then?” Davis said.
HPD said the following are general requirements for a school traffic monitor:
1) 18 years old
2) Permanent resident alien, US national, or US citizen
3) Must pass a physical exam and background check
4) Be punctual, reliable, courteous and able to carry out duties of the position