Pearl City cemetery languishes under lack of care

Sunset Memorial Park

Those who drive by Sunset Memorial Park on Kamehameha Hwy. in Pearl City can’t see it, but go around back and there’s no mistaking the lack of care for the cemetery.

When you talk to the relatives of those buried there, you hear nothing but anguish.

Lisa Souza says at times, she finds her niece’s grave marker moved to one side or another.

She has this message for those who manage the cemetery: “All we ask is for you to take care of our loved one’s resting place.”

Adolf Tabangoura bought a weed-wacker and poles to help him find the graves of his brother and father among the tall grass.

“It’s hurting us by disrespecting our family like this,” said Tabangoura. “It’s not right, but what can we do? We have to do it on our own because they all disappear.”

KHON2 dug up state records to track down the president of the cemetery, Lagofaatasi S. Dozinn. The state says he is a pastor of a church located down the road in Pearl City, but on Monday, he was nowhere to be found.

The cemetery has had a number of owners over the years. Sunset Memorial is now the registered owner.

The state has recorded a total of 10 complaints that go back to 1995. The regulator imposed a fine of $500 back in 1999.

For years, there have been complaints about the condition of the cemetery and for years, people have registered complaints with the state Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

After all these years and all those complaints, KHON2 asked the state yet again what could be done about the condition of the cemetery.

Daria Loy-Goto, the state Complaints and Enforcement Officer with the DCCA’s Regulated Industries Complaint Office, told KHON2 that the concerns with the cemetery have reached a point where she is now considering all options.

One of those options could include the state taking over the cemetery. “We’re still in the phase where we are going to need to look at all of the options – we haven’t precluded anything,” she said.

Loy-Goto said her office will also review the trust that the cemetery is supposed to have that includes funds for the perpetual care of Sunset Memorial Park.

According to the state Dept. of Accounting and General Services, the state currently care for four cemeteries due to alleged lack of care by previous owners — in Maikiki, Alewa Heights, Kapalama and Aiea — at a cost of $42,000 per year.

The last time the state took over a cemetery was a portion of a cemetery in Makiki in 1946.

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