Family set up GoFundMe for funeral expenses for 17-year-old who died spearfishing in Kona

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17-year-old Yohan Choi died while spearfishing off the waters of Kona on July 24, 2023. (Photo Courtesy: Choi family)

While spearfishing with close friends on Monday near the public beach access at Hokulia in Kailua-Kona, 17-year-old Yohan Choi ran into some kind of trouble. He was found unresponsive on the ocean floor, with efforts to revive him unsuccessful.

In a GoFundMe from his family called Yohan’s Life, it says: “On July 24th, a profound and sorrowful event shook the very core of our family – the departure of our cherished son, brother and friend, Yohan, who has now found rest in Heaven. Tragically, while spearfishing alongside his close friends, Yohan encountered an unforeseen fate, leaving us all devastated as he couldn’t make it back to the surface.”

Choi was born on Feb. 21, 2006, and grew up on the Big Island surrounded by an abiding love for nature and the ocean. He was on the brink of embracing his senior year at Kealakehe High School, eagerly anticipating the boundless possibilities that lay ahead, wrote his family, JoungHo, Michelle, Sarah and Esther.


“Though he may no longer be among us physically, his legacy will forever live on, etched in the hearts of those he touched with his kindness and genuine warmth,” the GoFundMe page said.

“Yohan’s sudden departure has left us unprepared for the overwhelming costs that have arisen,” it said. “We want to honor his memory in the most dignified manner possible, ensuring a heartfelt farewell to the young soul who brought so much joy and love to our lives.”

In just the first 15 hours, 304 people donated more than $40,000, double the goal of $20,000.


“The news of Yohan’s untimely passing has left both our family and the entire community in a state of heartbreak. It is evident that he held a special place in the hearts of many, receiving love and admiration from friends at school, members of our church/YWAM, and, of course, our family,” the GoFundMe page said. “The void he has left behind cannot be adequately expressed in mere words; the ache of his absence is immeasurable.”

The family said that the thoughts, prayers and emotional support they are receiving is equally invaluable as they navigate through this painful journey of loss and healing.

At this time, there are no plans set for his funeral service. The family said they will keep the community updated when decisions are made.

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