Clarita Ocol enjoyed walking around her Kalihi neighborhood in the morning, when the traffic was light.
The 67-year-old was returning from one such outing before sunrise Tuesday when a pickup driver struck her in a wet-from-rain crosswalk on North King Street between Gulick Avenue and Mokauea Street.
The impact knocked Ocol out of her shoes and threw her body more than 20 feet.
Ocol was taken to the Queen’s Medical Center, where she later died. Police have opened a negligent-homicide investigation.
Police said the driver’s speed in the 6 a.m. accident did not exceed the area’s 25 mph limit.
Daughter-in-law Dana Ocol, 42, said her mother-in-law didn’t drive and often turned down a ride to walk. Also, she cherished time with family. Last Christmas, four of her six children gathered on Oahu for a family reunion.
“She was just so happy,” Dana Ocol said. “You could just see it in her face how happy she was.”
Family members said they will most remember the quiet strength of the woman who, as a single mother in Kalihi, raised six children despite barely being able to read, write or speak English. Ocol became a widow when her oldest child was 12 and her youngest, 2. She is survived by six children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Oldest daughter Marilyn Purugganan, 47, said by phone from her home in Bothell, Wash., that her mother was born in the Philippines to a poor family that couldn’t afford to send her to school beyond the second grade. At age 21, Ocol married a 63-year-old Hawaii man in an arranged marriage. Her husband — also a Philippine native — had moved to Hawaii to work on a sugar plantation in the 1920s and returned to the Philippines to find a wife.
Shortly after the marriage in the late 1960s, the Ocols moved into a home in Kalihi. Twelve years later Ocol’s husband died after suffering a severe headache that left him in a coma.
“My mom had to go to work for the very first time,” Purugganan said. Ocol learned how to write her name and fill out job applications, then landed her first job as a cook at Jack in the Box. She later worked at Zippy’s and other restaurants before retiring last year because of heart problems.
Following a doctor’s urging to exercise, she began walking more, taking walks around downtown after attending Sunday Mass.
As news spread of the fatal crash, business owners in the area said the crosswalk, which does not have a traffic light, is dangerous because drivers speed through the populated area. They said more needs to be done to make pedestrians visible, such as adding flashing lights.
Dana Ocol said she was grateful the driver, a man in his 40s, stopped after the collision to call for help.
“I feel for him because he’s probably in shock as well,” she said.
Purugganan, who last saw her mother during the holidays, said she missed how her kind, soft-spoken mother guided her children out of trouble, “making us stronger even though we come from a family of not having much.”
“I just miss her,” she said. “She was doing well. She was really healthy, too.”