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Supporters wave signs at passing motorists on Mamalahoa Highway Friday afternoon in Waimea, seeking justice for Fabian Garett-Garcia. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
Kawika Spencer Oliveira, left and Keziah Grant Spencer hold signs at church row in Waimea Friday afternoon in support of justice for Fabian Garett-Garcia. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
Fabian Garett-Garcia. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)
WAIMEA — Nearly a dozen men, women and children waving signs along Church Row had a message for the community: “justice and love Fabian.”
Family and friends came together Friday to wave signs for 3-year-old Fabian Garett-Garcia, who died in foster care in July 2017. Their goal was to show support for the toddler’s mother and keep the public aware of the child’s untimely death, which is being investigated by Hawaii Police Department.
Sharnell Kalahiki grew up with the toddler’s mother, Sherri-Ann Garett. She organized the sign waving as a way to support her friend.
“Her story needs to be shared because it’s too much,” Kalahiki said. “We hope everyone involved will come forward and put this to rest.”
Kalahiki said the system that is supposed to be protecting children failed.
“CPS failed him. Social workers failed him,” she said. “It’s a loss. As ohana, we’re hurting for this family because this should’ve never happened.”
James Iopa also grew up with Garett. He said she is like family.
“My support goes out to them unconditionally — they’re my family,” he said.
Iopa added the 3-year-old’s death has affected the entire community in ways that are hard to describe.
“I just like justice for the baby,” he said.
Kiane Spencer-Oliveira, 14, and Kaiana Lawrence, 12, were waving signs asking motorists to “honk” for justice for baby Fabian. With every honk, the girls waved and screamed with appreciation.
“I don’t think it’s right that a kid dies in foster care, especially one who didn’t get to live his life yet,” Kiane said.
The 14-year-old added that being out, waving signs makes a difference because the community can see the support.
Garett was not present at the sign waving because she is on the mainland. On Facebook messenger Friday evening, she expressed her appreciation for the community’s efforts.
“I just want to say Thank You to my Friends, Family and the Community for the Love and Support,” she wrote. “Justice For Fabian and All Children Wronged by the system!”
Seven months after Fabian’s death, police released the toddler’s autopsy report. The pathologist’s report, which the Hawaii Police Department said it received Feb. 22, determined Fabian’s cause of death to be “blunt force trauma to the head,” according to a media release. The manner of death was listed as “undetermined.”
As of Friday, police investigators stated the incident was still under investigation. The case remains classified as a coroner’s inquest.
Detectives are finishing up the investigation, conferring with prosecutors and will forward the completed investigation to them as soon as it’s complete, authorities stated.
“Since Fabian’s death, we have lived every day in a parent’s worst nightmare. Not only have we had to process the heart-shattering loss of our baby boy but also deal with the many unanswered questions about how he died. One of our biggest and most challenging struggles has been answering questions from Fabian’s younger siblings about why Fabian is no longer with us,” reads a statement by the toddler’s parents, Garett and Juben Garcia, released by their attorney, Jeffrey Foster. “We are doing our best to manage the grief through our faith in God and the support of our ohana, friends and community.”
Foster said in the statement that the family has requested a copy of the report but was told it could not be released because the investigation is ongoing.
The initial incident occurred on July 25, 2017, when police and fire rescue personnel were called to a home on Hoohoa Street to a report of an unresponsive toddler, later identified as Fabian. Police have said the child was in a foster care home.
Life-saving measures were performed and the child was transported by medics to North Hawaii Community Hospital, however, he was pronounced dead shortly after reaching the facility, police said. The autopsy was performed July 27, 2017.
Police Maj. Robert Wagner said shortly after the incident that the foster parents gave police an indication of what happened to the toddler throughout the day. However, police were not releasing details of anyone’s statements because of the ongoing investigation.
Keopu Reelitz, Department of Human Services spokeswoman, stated earlier this month she could neither confirm nor deny any family’s involvement with Child Welfare Services.
Fabian’s family is asking anyone with information about the toddler’s death to contact police Detective Carrie Akina at 326-4646, ext. 277, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tips can able be emailed to the family’s attorney at email@example.com.
The foster care system needs to ban the use of tobacco. In care home facilities. Children do not need to be wx
Using the f-bomb to eulogize a child ?
That’s about as classy as making babies with a drug addict.
Seriously.??!! What a tragedy…and we don’t know the scumbags who did this?? Events of the day?? What events of the day could possibly matter except this innocent little boy falling victim to SICK foster parents – whom the County of Hawaii allowed to take care of this child??? SHAME on the state of Hawaii’s poor, pathetic system where murderous people go unchecked and in charge of innocent children. What the hell is going on……? Rise up people, Hilo slow needs to become Hilo MOVE to action.
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