MADD keeps up the fight

LIHUE — The fight against drunken driving is one that Kekaha resident Kira Seabury and at least three generations of her family has been engaged in for the last decade.

It is a fight that, Seabury said, began shortly after her grandfather, Ramus Seabury, was killed by a drunken driver on Feb. 23, 2003, along Kalanianaole Highway in Waimanalo as he drove to his part-time job at the Marine Corps Air Station at Kaneohe Bay.

What made it even more difficult, she said, were the close ties that her family and the drunk driver’s family had — both families were from Waimanalo and her grandfather used to golf with the driver’s father.

“It had a really hard impact on our family,” Kira said. “One of my uncles moved here to Kauai after the accident because he couldn’t handle passing by the site — he was the one who was driving behind my grandpa when it happened.”

Up until her death last year, Seabury’s grandmother, Harriet Seabury, fought successfully to get a median barrier installed along a stretch of the highway where her husband was killed and became a vocal advocate for the Mothers Against Drunk Driving on Oahu.

The torch was then passed on to Seabury, who has carried it valiantly. Since then, she has been working to increase MADD’s presence on Kauai through outreach efforts at family events like this year’s Kauai County Fair and Coconut Festival and the weekly Hanapepe Town Art Walk.

Magnets have been handed out promoting their message, which is rewarding to see around town — a visual that word is spreading.

“I think I’m doing good to try and get the word out on Kauai,” Seabury said. “I like getting the word out and we’re starting to see our magnets on people’s cars.”  

On Wednesday, she and other key volunteers and law enforcement officers were honored for their efforts at a MADD Hawaii- and Kauai Toyota-sponsored Kauai Police Recognition Luncheon at the Kauai Beach Resort in Hanamaulu.

Seabury and fellow MADD volunteers Delissa Nobriga and Kim Nizo were recognized for their efforts on Kauai. Kauai Police Department Officers Marnie Fernandez, Roland Peahu, Shawn Hanna and Hanson Hsu were also honored for their enforcement efforts.

“A lot of what we’re doing is really a grassroots effort in which we’re trying work with volunteers to build from the ground up,” MADD Hawaii Executive Director Abigail Nickell said at the luncheon.

“Because we’re so small, we’re also reliant on what (KPD) is doing in our communities, especially as the enforcement piece of it — it is so important. Our mission is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking and we can’t do those things without law enforcement support.”

According to Kauai Police Department statistics, a total of 232 citations for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant were issued last year, a slight increase from 221 in 2011.

In all, the Kauai Police Department has issued a total of 201 citations for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant as of Oct. 31.

KPD Assistant Chief Ale Quibilan, the commander for the patrol services bureau, said the task of keeping the island’s roads safe is an around-the-clock effort that requires continual training and vigilance, especially with the holiday season around the corner.

“We’re entering into the holiday season and our officers recognize this time of year as a time of celebration and possibly over-indulgence and it is our job to keep our streets and communities safe,” Quibilan said.

But it’s an effort made easier by the passion shown by Seabury.

• Darin Moriki, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-3681 or dmoriki@thegardenisland.com.

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