A week before Christmas in 2020, Azalia Park and her friends were driving to see the holiday lights at Aloha Stadium and celebrate the season.
A day after Christmas, Azalia’s mother Chanda and about 75 other family and friends were grieving Azalia’s death and waving signs in the midst of a storm at the Halawa intersection where she was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver.
“I received so much love and support on that day,” recalls Chanda, whose cousin approached her and MADD with the sign-waving idea. “What I got out of it was that I wasn’t alone in my grief. There are many people who are willing to give of their time to support a cause. “We did the sign waving again, exactly one year later (December 26, 2021) and we plan to do this annually.”
Azalia, 21, was hit in the crosswalk at the intersection of Ala Alii and Kahuapaani as she was making her way to the first holiday light show at the Stadium with three of her friends. That night police arrested a 21-year-old man on suspicion of failure to render aid, operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant and negligent injury in the first degree.
Azalia was taken to the hospital in critical condition and died December 21, the driver was then arrested for negligent homicide in the first degree.
Chanda came to that intersection to wave signs five days after her daughter’s death, to honor her life. “Everything was such a blur and I don’t remember much,” Chanda says. “I was in so much pain and still in disbelief of my new reality. I know that I didn’t want other families to go through what I was going through and I didn’t want anyone else getting killed by a drunk driver during the rest of the holiday season. I was hoping to raise awareness and make people think twice about drinking and driving.”
Today Chanda, Senior Marketing Director at World System Builder, still grieves. She is focused on prevention and making people aware that life is about choices. “Choose wisely, she says, “because what we choose today can negatively impact our lives forever. The decisions we make today can affect our lives, 5, 10, 20 years from now and even for eternity. Don’t be selfish. I would tell them (impaired drivers) to think of their family and other families.”
“The best way to prevent impaired driving is prepare in advance. Always have a plan in place to get home safely when you plan to drink. I would tell them they can kill someone’s child, like how someone killed mine. No family deserves this type of suffering when it is 100 percent preventable.”