Funeral services set for 20-year-old from Kona killed in 4th of July fireworks accident

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Glen John Nakata. (Photo courtesy: GoFundMe)

Family and friends described Glen John Castillo Nakata as a carefree spirit and “your Mr. Aloha,” but now they are mourning his tragic death that ended his life on the Fourth of July at just age 20.

Nakata suffered a fatal head injury after a firework launcher went off in his hand.

Funeral services are slated for July 21 and 22. A GoFundMe account with a goal of $10,000 was set up to help with expenses. As of Monday, the goal had nearly been reached with $9,550 collected. Click here to donate.

Known as Johnny Boy or John John, Brendon Nakata said his younger brother was loved by a lot of people.


“He always encouraged Aloha Friday, even if you had a bad week,” Brendon Nakata said. “He always found a way to enjoy life.”

At 10:27 p.m., Kona patrol officers and Hawai‘i Fire Department personnel responded to a report of a public accident, possibly involving illegal fireworks, in a retail parking lot in the 74-5400 block of Kamakaeha Avenue in Kona.

The officers found John Nakata lying on the ground with a substantial head injury. He was transported by ambulance to the Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:55 p.m.

Brendon Nakata, only five years older than his brother, said he didn’t learn about his death until the next morning.


“It was a shock,” he said. “I didn’t know how to take it in. Emotions come in waves.”

While they didn’t spend a lot of time together, Brendon Nakata thought fondly of the days he spent with his brother fishing and throwing net as children. Walking on the rocks next to the shore line, he remembers how they used to grumble about the fish poking them through the fish bags when they carried them back to the car.

Those years fostered John Nakata’s love for fishing. He also enjoyed hunting.

John Nakata was looking toward his future. Describing him as self-motivated, Brendon Nakata said his brother got an associate’s degree at Pālamanui College in auto mechanics.


“He was planning on going into the Army to follow in my dad’s footsteps,” Brendon Nakata said.

Brendon Nakata said he and his family are grateful for the donations they’ve received to the GoFundMe account.

“We have a really good support system and friends helped to take action,” he said.

Funeral services are public. Visitation will be held at 4 p.m. on July 21 at the Dodo Mortuary Chapel in Hilo. A wake service will follow at 6 p.m.

Another service will take place on July 22 at Malia Puna O Kalani Catholic Church, located at 326 Desha Ave., in Hilo. Mass will begin at 10 a.m. John Nakata will be laid to rest at Homeland Memorial Park in Hilo.

The family asks that those who plan to attend come dressed in casual attire.

Police have launched a coroner’s inquest investigation and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death. Police ask that anyone who witnessed this incident to please contact Officer Melani Cline at 808-326-4646, ext. 253.

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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