Hawai‘i County Council pays tribute to fallen Maui firefighter with Big Island connection
February 8, 2023, 8:47 PM HST
* Updated February 9, 9:46 AM
The Hawai‘i County Council on Wednesday paid its respects to a fallen Maui firefighter who was a 2016 graduate and star athlete at Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i in Kea‘au.
Before the meeting began, the Council offered its condolences and observed a moment of silence in honor of Tre Evans-Dumaran.
The 24-year-old Maui firefighter was sucked into a storm drain on Jan. 27 on Wai‘apo Street in Kīhei while responding to an emergency call during flash flooding. The waters swept him about 800 yards to where the drain empties into the ocean.
He died Saturday after spending more than a week in the intensive care unit at Maui Memorial Medical Center in Wailuku.
“For many of us, we watched the headlines in the news about him just because of his connection to us, and one person who kept me in the loop was our former colleague Aaron Chung,” Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy said.
Evans-Dumaran excelled in football and track during his high school career at Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i. He was the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association’s state track and field boys 110-meter hurdles champion in 2016 and was presented a certificate from Chung and the Council honoring that accomplishment. Chung asked if Lee Loy and Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz would re-share that certificate Wednesday in memory of Evans-Dumaran.
Kierkiewicz read the first half.
The certificate laid out a picture of a person with tenacity and perseverance, who didn’t give up in the face of adversity and excelled at overcoming challenges. Evans-Dumaran’s victory at the 2016 state meet “provided one of the most inspiring stories of the entire competition” that year.
It was his senior year of high school and he was the defending Big Island Interscholastic Federation champ in the 110-meter hurdles and reigning champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and 300-meter hurdles. He had his eyes set on claiming the state 110-meter hurdles title before graduating.
However, an unfortunate fall the year before during the state meet on Maui that was no fault of his own dashed those hopes. He also suffered a major setback during his prior football season when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, one of the key ligaments that help stabilize the knee joint.
“His chances of running in the upcoming track season appeared bleak, his quest for a state gold medal seemingly over,” Kierkiewicz read.
Evans-Dumaran had different plans; the injury wouldn’t stop him from reaching his goal. He not only raced in 2016, he won the 110-meter hurdles Big Island Interscholastic Federation title for the fourth year in a row, positioning himself for one last attempt at the state crown.
“As if on queue though, hard luck struck Tre again when later that same evening he fell in the finals of the 300-meter hurdles and injured his shoulder,” Kierkiewicz read. “The news was bad and his doctor advised him not to run for three weeks. The state meet was one week away.”
He decided to run. After all, he posted the top qualifying time in the entire state for the event. But his shoulder injury prevented him from using the normal four-point sprinter stance at the starting blocks, so he decided to experiment with a makeshift three-point stance.
“Most observers did not realize that his victory, 14.75 seconds later, was not only a statement of personal resilience and determination but represented a family’s triumph as well,” Kierkiewicz read, becoming visibly emotional.
Lee Loy read the second half of the certificate, fighting back her own tears as she continued Evans-Dumaran’s story.
“For you see, all of Tre’s misfortune on the track paled in comparison to the challenges he and his family were facing at home,” she read.
During his sophomore and junior years, his mother, Chelsie Evans, a single parent, was battling cancer and it was difficult for her to provide the level of support she thought her son deserved academically and athletically. Right before the state competition, his younger sister, who was fighting an autoimmune disease, began chemotherapy treatment.
“Throughout it all, Tre remained steadfast in his belief in himself and his family,” Lee Loy read. “Two simple statements his mother tells us all, and we all really need to know about this young man: ‘Tre is a really good big brother and a loving son.ʻ “
Lee Loy’s voice broke and trembled as she cried during her emotional closing to the tribute.
“The Hawai‘i County Council extends our deepest condolences to Tre’s mom and his sister and his entire family. Not only here, at Kamehameha Schools, his classmates, but on Maui and our entire fire ‘ohana,” she said.
Council Chairwoman Heather Kimball thanked Lee Loy, Kierkiewicz and Chung for their beautiful words in remembering Evans-Dumaran before the Council and those attending Wednesday’s meeting sat silently for about 30 seconds in his honor.
Maui Fire Chief Brad Ventura said he and Evans-Dumaran’s firefighting ‘ohana were with the family Saturday to offer comfort and support. Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen Jr. also offered his condolences to the family.
Evans-Dumaran’s mother thanked the community for its love in a statement posted on Maui County’s Facebook page following her son’s death.
“My heart tells me that Tre wants to say thank you for loving his family, his fire ‘ohana, his friends during this time,” Chelsie Evans said. “He’d want people to keep giving blood, to keep doing your part as a hero, in the way he lived every day on Earth.”
The State Occupational Safety and Health Division is investigating the incident. An inspector was expected to travel to Maui on Wednesday.
The family has requested privacy during this difficult time.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family. More than $138,000 had been raised as of about 3 p.m. Wednesday.
In an emotional update Sunday, Chelsie Evans said she will carry the pain of missing her son for the rest of her life.
“But Lord, hear me,” she wrote on the GoFundMe page. “You created THE most amazing soul and you gifted him to a teenage girl not ready to be a mom, but I took you up for the challenge. I loved that gift more than I knew a 15-year-old’s heart could bare. I did my very best, although imperfect, to care for this beautiful gift with my whole being.”
In ending her update, Evans said she’s heard others say there is no greater love than God’s, but wanted to be clear — her “baby still deserves more” love than He can give him.
“So as the rest of us here on Earth try to get by one breath at a time, I beg, please, please, never stop trying to give him more.”