ST. GEORGE — A Hurricane father of two young children died Friday after being hit by a pickup truck while helping a stranded motorist in California.
Paulasi Aitui, 27, died surrounded by family, his wife, Julia del Villar-Aitui, told St. George News.
Aitui joined two other good Samaritans to help an elderly woman move her stalled van out of the road the evening of Dec. 14 on Interstate 15 near Barstow.
A driver in a green Dodge Dakota sideswiped a nearby car then ran into the three good Samaritans as they were pushing the van, Victorville Daily Press reported.
Aitui was flown to the hospital where he underwent 15 hours of extensive surgery before succumbing to his injuries. One of the other good Samaritans also died, and the other suffered minor injuries.
California Highway Patrol troopers arrested the driver of the pickup truck, 56-year-old John Irick, of Fresno, California, on suspicion of driving under the influence resulting in bodily injury, according to the Daily Press report, which notes Irick had a previous DUI conviction from 2012.
Helping others in their time of need was reportedly part of who Aitui was.
“He was just the friendliest guy. He was always supremely nice to everyone he came in contact with,” Rodger Adams said.
Adams, who is the owner of Anytime Fitness in Hurricane, said he frequently saw Aitui stop his own workout to help kids and senior citizens with their fitness at the gym.
“He would go out of his way to help people,” Adams said.
Adams said he wished to remind people that such senseless tragedy is avoidable.
“People who might be thinking about driving when they’re impaired need to realize it’s not just about them, it’s the people they can hurt in the process of making that bad decision.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up on behalf of the family to help with medical and funeral expenses. Donations can also be made to an account set up for the Aitui family at Mountain America Credit Union.
Ed. note: When making charitable contributions it is advisable to consult with professionals for tax advice and investment risks.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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