Veteran With Oklahoma Ties Dies In Hawaii, No Next Of Kin Found
HONOLULU - Officials in Hawaii are searching for the family of a late veteran with Oklahoma ties. James Sands died earlier this year, but investigators have yet to track down any loved ones.
The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s office says it has exhausted its own resources looking for relatives of the 72-year-old Army veteran. Now, they are looking for the public’s help.
CBS affiliate Hawaii News Now reports James Sands was using a walker to cross the street after his discharge from the hospital March 4, when he was hit and killed by a van. Almost three months later, investigators have yet to find his next of kin.
“We normally would not release a name or any information because family should be notified before the public is notified of his death,” said ME investigator Charlotte Carter. “However, we have been unable in all our extensive searches to find his family.”
Sands arrived on the island decades ago, but his friends do not know much about his life before then. Now, that knowledge is necessary.
“I was wondering who was taking care of this and who was going to go through all of this because somebody had to do some homework on him,” his friend James Smith told Hawaii News Now.
Smith discovered an old briefcase in Sands's home. It revealed a hidden history, including a stint at Ponca Military Academy, where he played football and basketball.
Sands's birth certificate shows he was born in Texas, and one photo shows him with a girl who could be his older sister.
Smith said, “She definitely doesn’t know that he passed because they weren’t keeping in contact at all.”
His friends believe he should be buried with military honors alongside other veterans at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, but if family is not found soon, Sands will be cremated without a proper funeral.
If you recognize Sands or are related to him, you can claim his remains by clicking here.