Foundation named for crash victim donates car seats

Police investigation of Will Smith’s death remains incomplete

By CLAUDINE SAN NICOLAS, Staff Writer POSTED: February 20, 2008

Part-time Maui resident Susan Moulton donated 10 booster seats on behalf of the Will Smith Foundation, a nonprofit established on behalf of her 8-year-old son, who was killed in a crash. Accepting the donation is Executive Director Kelvin Dang of Safe Community of Maui, an organization that assists in making roadways more safe.

Safe Community of Maui photo

WAILUKU — The Will Smith Foundation, named in honor of an 8-year-old car crash victim, presented its first gift of 10 booster seats valued at approximately $400.

An attempt to donate a $14,000 personal watercraft to the County of Maui remains on hold while approvals are sought.

The gift of booster seats represents an initial fulfillment of a pledge by part-time Maui resident Susan Moulton to return to the island to make something positive of her son’s death. According to police, Will Smith was a passenger in a car driven by Moulton on June 3 when they were struck by an oncoming car near the Ukumehame Wayside Park. The second vehicle was driven by a woman who lost control of her vehicle, veered off the roadway, then went into the opposite lane of traffic.

Criminal charges have not been filed in the case, which remains under investigation. Police said they suspect that speeding and reckless driving by the Lahaina woman, 23 at the time, contributed to the crash.

Moulton said this past week that she holds no ill will toward the woman who may be responsible for her son’s death.

“I really feel no animosity toward her,” Moulton said.

Lt. Bobby Hill of the Maui Police Department Traffic Division said the crash is still under investigation. His three investigators only recently cleared the fatality cases of 2005 and are moving as quickly as they can to get to the June 2007 case, he said.

Moulton said she respects the work of the police and understands that investigations take time.

She said she believes everything happens for a reason and that Will’s death was somehow a channel to reach out and help people on Maui.

“He would be so proud that we’re doing this is in his name.”

Moulton has raised close to $15,000 so far, mostly through donations from friends and business associates on the Mainland. The Will Smith Foundation has also paid for 400 pounds of clothing and school supplies for needy children in Africa.

Moulton visited Maui last week to present the foundation’s first gifts and to start on details for a fundraiser this year to help in other Maui’s causes. Moulton said she has a fondness for safety programs and those that benefit children but is open to other ideas as well.

People can contact her through the foundation’s Web site at

Moulton said she plans to contact fellow condominium owners in Kaanapali and others to make donations to the nonprofit that she had set up within a month after her son’s death.

In addition, she has set June 14 as the tentative date for “Will’s Run for Hope,” a fundraiser to help nonprofit organizations on Maui. Moulton has made connections with the Valley Isle Road Runners, and she’s talking to others about turning the event into a 10K or a 10K with a 2K so that children can participate.

“On Maui there are so many needs and people really do want to make a difference for others. This is one way we can do it,” she said.

Executive Director Kelvin Dang of Safe Community of Maui said his group was grateful for the foundation’s gifts.

“This came as a great surprise,” he said. “It’s awesome and it’s going to really help.”

Safe Community of Maui is a nonprofit agency promoting traffic safety programs including bicycle safety and pedestrian safety.

The group sponsors monthly checks on child safety seats in cars.

Through the inspections, Dang said he’s learned that 96 percent of the child safety seats are improperly installed in cars on Maui.

The donated booster seats will be given away during an upcoming inspection.

Hawaii state law requires child safety seats for infants and children up to 4 years old, and booster seats for children ages 4 to 7. According to the Keiki Injury Prevention Coalition, children unrestrained by seat belts are at least 50 percent more at risk for injury than children in a child safety seat or a booster seat.

Will was riding in the front passenger seat with his safety belt buckled at the time of the June 3 crash.

An autopsy report indicated the rental car seat belt was “not a good fit” for the boy who was 4 feet 1 inch tall and weighed 60 pounds.

Child safety experts recommend children under 4 feet 9 inches remain in a booster seat, even if they are older than 7.

• Claudine San Nicolas can be reached at