LIHUE — May 15 would have been the 40th birthday for Sandra Galas.
“She was kind, beautiful, and great at everything. She loved her kids and she was a great wife. I’ve got to say,” said Joanie Morita, who was Galas’ best friend. “For somebody to stand by and live what she lived through while she was here, takes an amazing person.
On Jan. 25, 2006, the 27-year-old mother was found strangled in her car parked in the garage of her home. So Tuesday, about 125 friends and family gathered at the YWCA in Lihue for a candlelight vigil to honor the memory of the Eleele woman.
The event, though, wasn’t about how she died. Rather, it was about how she lived.
Alma Umalla said she was blessed to have Galas in her life and as a friend from her youth.
“I would like people to remember her as a woman that was an awesome mother,” Umalla said. “She loves her children, an awesome daughter, a very committed daughter, very respectful, and an amazing friend.”
During the solemn ceremony, Morita read a statement from Galas’ parents, Larry and Toshi Mendonca.
“How do you remember her? Sandy was a lot of things to a lot of people, yet we all have a set of personal memories that signify what she’s meant to each of us individually and that’s what Toshi and I would like to do today,” Larry Mendonca said in the statement as he implored the crowd to dig deep into their personal memory banks of his daughter, and smile at those memories.
“Rest assured that she was very happy to have been a part of your lives and to celebrate the fact that you were a part of hers. The fact that you have good memories of her means that you were special to each other and that makes us, her parents, very happy,” he said.
Mendonca said he and his wife always think of their daughter.
“We’re very sad that she’s physically no longer with us, but believe me, she is in our hearts every waking moment, often in our dreams, too. Memories and recollections of her dart in and out of our consciousness all day, every day, triggered by things we see, hear, touch or do,” he said.
His daughter, he said, was remarkable, full of life and full of joy.
“We believed she’d always be here. As it turned out, fate had other plans,” he said.
In late January, Darren Galas, 46, who was estranged from his wife Sandy Galas at the time of her death, pleaded no contest to the reduced charge of assault in the first degree in her death. He was originally charged with one count of murder in the second degree.
Sentencing for Darren Galas is scheduled for May 30. The maximum sentence he can receive for the plea is 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.