The new year will bring funerals

Faced with the realities of planning for holiday celebrations as well as the funerals for both of her parents, Eleanor Nuesca-Rita appears remarkably at peace.

She is certain her parents, Helene “Lei” Nuesca and Louis Nuesca, of Anahola, are at peace, and in a better place.

Both died from injuries sustained in a two-car accident on Kuhio Highway near Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Halloween, Monday, Oct. 31.

“They’re not suffering anymore,” said Nuesca-Rita, discussing the multiple heart attacks and heart surgeries her father endured, and the back and neck injuries that slowed down her mother until the end.

“Now, she doesn’t have to walk with a cane,” she said.

Helene “Lei” Nuesca suffered a work-related injury, and was hurt in an earlier auto accident, before the fatal two-car accident only a few yards down Kuhio Highway from where Louis Nuesca used to work.

She was pronounced dead at the hospital that same day.

Helene “Lei” Nuesca could no longer work because of her injuries before the fatal accident, and it pained her daughter to watch her mother have trouble getting in and out of the car, and navigating stairs at their home, Nuesca-Rita said.

Robert Nuesca, son of the deceased and also hurt in the accident, is back on Kaua’i after spending all of November and some of December at The Queen’s Medical Center on O’ahu, and is now in stable condition at Wilcox Memorial Hospital, Nuesca-Rita said.

So now, instead of preparing for the traditional Christmas-Eve gathering today, Saturday, Dec. 24, normally at Robert Nuesca’s home in Wailua, Nuesca-Rita, her family members and others in the Nuesca clan, are cleaning up their parents’ place on state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property in Anahola, throwing some things away and making the home ready for Robert Nuesca and his family, who will move in after he is released from the hospital, she said.

“We’re still trying to keep close, because that’s what mom and dad would want,” Nuesca-Rita said. “Just trying to hang on to each other for my brother.”

Robert Nuesca faces lots of physical therapy, essentially to learn how to walk again, she said. “Right now, we’re just trying to hang on for him.”

Instead of going to Robert Nuesca’s home in Wailua on Christmas Eve, they will spend Christmas Day at Wilcox Memorial Hospital, at Robert Nuesca’s bedside, she said.

As hard as it has been on the Nuesca children, it has been a difficult time for the grandchildren, too, Nuesca-Rita said.

Helene “Lei” Nuesca and Louis Nuesca were regulars at the hula practices and recitals and other performances, and at the football games and practices, of most of the grandchildren, Nuesca-Rita said.

“They were close with mom and dad.”

Helene “Lei” Nuesca is one of 16 children of the late Joan K. Levi and Herman K. Puahi, and Louis Nuesca had six sisters and a brother, the children of the late Margaret Hana and Louis E. Nuesca.

In addition to the immediate family members of the deceased parents of the Nuesca family, there are other very close relatives, including Keola Victor and Delphine “Della” Kuoha, blood relatives and close, like brother and sister to Nuesca-Rita, she said.

Earlier this month, when Nuesca-Rita’s sister Danette Nuesca got word of her father’s death, and family members who had just returned to Kaua’i the day before had to get on a plane again for Honolulu, there was a mixture of anger and sadness.

“We lost daddy. It’s just hard right now,” Danette Nuesca said when she called to let people know that her father had passed away on Dec. 3.

“We just gotta take ’em one day at a time,” she said, adding that between 200 and 300 people in the immediate family alone are expected for the funeral services planned for the end of the first week of January (the obituaries will run in tomorrow’s paper).

Her attention turned to the mounting medical bills, and the frustration over the apparent immunity from blame the 19-year-old male driver of the other vehicle, who has not yet even been arrested, is enjoying, she said.

“It’s not our family’s fault this all had happen,” she said, adding that she has been told that members of her family cannot file suit against the driver of the other vehicle, possibly because of his young age.

Kaua’i Police Department investigators said speed may have been a factor in the crash.

Danette Nuesca said she has appealed to lawmakers, including state Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kaua’i-Ni’ihau, to push for changes to state law to allow others in similar circumstances to be able to sue those responsible for deadly accidents.

“We’re going to be stuck with all these bills. The family is the one that is suffering now,” said Danette Nuesca, adding that she wants to get laws changed so that members of other families don’t have to go through what her family members are going through now.

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