The day the town of Lahaina was reduced to ashes, an elderly woman was saved from potential death by a man who refused to leave her behind.
August 8 remains a painful scar for many people. Children and loved ones lost their lives in a terrible disaster. A fire that was believed to be contained rekindled and engulfed the entire historic town of Lahaina on the island of Maui. The sirens didn't sound that day, and no one was warned about the impending threat.
Herman Andaya, the director of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, made the final decision not to activate the sirens, fearing that people would head "Mauka," towards the mountains. This decision likely cost countless lives.
Chelsea Ku’ualohapau’ole Keakalena Wright and her mother Cynthia Nalani Wright, were in Lahaina that day. When they realized the town was on fire, they ran towards Front Street. Cynthia had almost nothing on except underwear.
"We got into our car and then our upstairs neighbors joined us. We were the last two to get out of there. As we were trying to leave, the fire suddenly fell on a tree across the street amid the traffic. We couldn't get out. So we decided to turn back, park the car, and just run," she explained.
Despite her physical condition making it difficult to walk and run, Cynthia kept going, driven by fear for her life and her children's lives. At one point, she considered giving up and urged her loved ones to leave her behind and continue without her. However, a man who was also fleeing the fire refused to abandon her. He carried her for a while and then used his vehicle to help her escape.
Chelsea mentioned that the experience felt surreal, like a scene from a movie. She and her family are immensely grateful and will never be able to thank the man enough for risking his life to save them.
During the chaos, Chelsea was separated from her mother, and had no means of contacting her. With no power and electricity, she had her mother's medications with her, which could have been very dangerous.
Chelsea wants to emphasize that the man who helped them seemed like an angel. "He was there in our path to ensure that we all reached safety," she said. "He's like an angel placed in our path to do good."
For all of our reporting from Maui, visit TheTruthAboutMaui.com.