GoFundMe set up for 23-year-old critically injured in head-on crash on Big Island highway
July 13, 2023, 11:39 AM HST
* Updated July 13, 11:41 AM
Last month, 23-year-old Kua Kowardy’s life changed in a moment on Daniel K. Inouye Highway when he was hit head-on by a blue Ford Escape, driven by a 37-year-old woman who crossed the center line.
The impact was so violent that Kowardy was flown to Queen’s Medical Center on O‘ahu with his vehicle’s brake pedal still lodged in his leg.
Nancy Campbell said the June 16 crash nearly cost her son his life and has left him wheelchair-bound for now. He broke bones in his feet, legs, pelvis, left shoulder and left arm that required an immediate 10-hour surgery on Oʻahu.
He was intubated and sedated for the first couple of days of his hospitalization before he was stable enough to undergo a second surgery.
The Big Island community has rallied around the mother and her son to raise funds to help with the mounting medical bills and additional home health care that will be required over the next few months. Campbell set up a GoFundMe account with a goal of $15,000. So far, more than $8,000 has been raised.
Kowardyʻs passenger in his white GMC van, his 25-year-old girlfriend, also was injured. She was transported to Hilo Medical Center and treated. The driver of the Ford Escape was treated for a broken left arm and broken ribs, according to the Hawaiʻi Police Department.
While Kowardy recovers, Hawai‘i Police Department investigators have opened a first-degree negligent injury investigation into the collision.
Kowardy’s crash was one of at least three collisions on Daniel K. Inouye Highway in June in which people were severely injured Two crashes occurred near mile marker 26 and another happened near mile marker 9.
For Kowardy, he will recover over time, but doctors have told him he will live with some degree of pain for the rest of his life.
Before the crash, he was an active, working in landscaping, and loved to fish and hunt. He’s also been working toward long-term goals, including becoming a homeowner. A graduate from Hawai‘i Community College’s agriculture program, Kowardy has plans to grow food on his father’s property in Hāmākua.
Now, things are up in the air. He returned to the Big Island on June 28 and moved in with his mother to recover at her home in Honoka‘a. His recovery is going to be a long process, with both legs now in removable casts. Campbell said it will take at least three months before he can put weight on his left leg.
“A lot of my energy has been setting up my home to accommodate his needs,” said Campbell, who has turned the living room into a hospital room.
Ramps were installed around the home so Kowardy could navigate his wheelchair in and out of the house and onto the deck. The bathroom door also was removed so he could fit through it with his wheelchair.
“Kua was born and raised here, and I know it was hard for him to be vulnerable and ask for help,” she said.
Campbell is especially thankful Kowardy is alive. She already has been through the deep pain of having lost a child. In 2014, her son Koshari Kahikili Waits was murdered on Moloka‘i.
“As a mom, you have to push that aside to do what needs to be done,” she said.
Campbell has done her best to make the home accessible and comfortable for her son. She prepares his medication, cooks, cleans and rearranges his pillows. She also makes sure Kowardy’s small mixed-breed dog, Monkey, isn’t lying down on any of his injuries when they sleep.
Campbell said the whole experience has been traumatic for her son. She’s not sure if he’ll ever get behind the wheel of a car again.
Campbell said it’s hard to put into words how much the support from friends and strangers has touched her heart.
Through a community page on Facebook, Campbell was able to connect with a couple from Puna who delivered a ramp to her home so Kowardy could get in and out in his wheelchair. She also had a friend pick up wood and building materials to build a small ramp out from the living room to the deck.
Campbell bought a used bed that is more comfortable and the proper height for Kowardy as he recovers.
Monkey also has been helping Kowardy through his recovery, never leaving his side since he returned from O‘ahu.
“We should get him registered as an emotional support dog,” Campbell said.