HPA ‘Ohana Says Final Goodbyes to Ilan Naibryf

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Michael Hanano was at a complete loss for words when he got the call that his friend, Ilan Naibryf, was missing after a 12-story building in Florida he was in collapsed last month.

Naibryf, who boarded at Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy from 2016-18, was reported missing after a large section of the 12-story building in Surfside, a community in the Miami Beach area, crumbled at approximately 1:30 a.m. Eastern time Thursday, June 24. He was confirmed to be dead about two weeks later.

Dozens of HPA students and graduates along with staff gathered at ‘Anaeho‘omalu Bay Saturday, July 17, at sunset, to say their final goodbyes to Naibryf. Hanano was among them.


As more news came out about the collapse, Hanano told Big Island Now on Saturday, he realized what a devastating freak accident it was.

“None of it really made sense, you know? It’s just something so freak of nature that you can’t believe it happened,” Hanano said.

Gathered in a half-circle facing the ocean, the HPA ‘ohana held a memorial for Naibryf, starting with an oli (chant) and song. Hanano and one other student spoke about Naibryf.


HPA’s former Hawaiian language teacher Malani DeAguir oversaw the ceremony, sharing memories from friends of Naibryf and the type of man he was as well as offering a message of love and peace.

“Ilan had unbridled joy and was a brilliant soul who was filled with a positive energy that lifted others up and who embraced his many identities: American, Jewish, Argentine,” DeAguir read aloud. An ‘awa ceremony was also performed.

DeAguir told the group it can be discouraging when “you don’t understand why something happened to you or someone you care about.”


“But trusting in the Lord’s wisdom and power, we will know how to move forward in any situation,” she added.

The HPA students and graduates made their way to the ocean with their boards and flowers to say their last goodbye as Deaguir began to sing Aloha ‘oe.

“After everything that’s happened…and watching them lower the casket over Zoom, it really does take a lot to come out here, but it’s so necessary because it’s that final sendoff,” Hanano said. “(It’s) a chance for us to sit out in the water, be in touch with him and say our goodbyes.”

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a full-time reporter for Pacific Media Group. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.

Tiffany can be reached at [email protected].
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