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Big Island Woman Remains in Coma After Summit Accident

February 1, 2021, 3:06 PM HST
* Updated February 1, 8:27 PM
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Pua Wong and Kawika Roman. Courtesy photo.

A Hawai‘i woman who sustained critical injuries following a body boarding accident on the summit of Mauna Kea remained in a medically-induced coma on Monday.

Pua Wong ascended the mauna with family and friends last Friday to enjoy the newly-fallen snow and watch the sunset behind the clouds. As the excursion neared its close, Wong climbed onto a boogie board and slid down a mountain slope. She lost control of the board and slammed into a grouping of rocks, breaking several bones and suffering severe head trauma.

“It’s been the most difficult last couple of days,” Kawika Roman, Wong’s boyfriend, said from her bedside at The Queens’ Medical Center in Honolulu Monday. “She’s stable, but only time will tell. With head injuries, it’s a slow process.”

Roman was working Friday and thus not atop Mauna Kea when the incident occurred. He said he received calls from Wong’s family and friends following the accident and was able to meet her at Hilo Medical Center before she was transported to O‘ahu for surgery.

Surgeons successfully repaired a fractured tibia and forearm on Wong’s left side, setting several other broken bones. Doctors decided to keep her in an induced coma after noting concerns of swelling in the brain and the extensive physical pain she would be forced to battle upon regaining consciousness.

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Trips to the mauna after the first snows grace Big Island peaks have been commonplace for Wong. Despite her previous experience, the injuries she suffered Friday highlight the inherent risks posed by exploring the natural, yet often treacherous, wonders of the island.

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“Every year when it snows, whenever she’s back home on the Big Island, she’ll go up,” Roman said.

The 23-year-old educator at Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School recently moved back to the island and currently resides in Hilo. Roman said she is in the process of studying for the MCATS and has aspirations to pursue medical school after graduating from California Baptist University with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biology and Pre-Medical Studies.

Pua Wong. Courtesy photo.

A GoFundMe Page has been initiated to help Wong and her loved ones pay what are likely to prove expensive medical bills.

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As of 3 pm Monday afternoon, more than 1,300 donors had raised nearly $127,000 for Wong’s cause, closing in on the halfway mark of the account’s appointed $300,000 goal.

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