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Valley woman's trip to Hawaii ends in tragedy

Briana Charlie dreamed of opening a vet clinic in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. But her dreams were cut short after she died during a trip to Hawaii

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — While vacationing in Hawaii for the fifth time, Briana Charlotte Charlie, a student at Scottsdale Community College, suddenly died.

The 23-year-old traveled to Honolulu in late October to meet up with a friend, but her family said she is not coming back home alive after she may have fallen from a balcony on Saturday.

“She lived her life to the fullest,” said Al Charlie, her father. “There’s nothing that she didn’t do.”

Briana Charlie is described as a free-spirited, caring person who loved animals. Her family said she had rescued and taken home hedgehogs, sugar gliders, a bunny, dogs, hamsters, and a guinea pig.

After graduating from SCC, her family said she was planning to attend Arizona State University and earn a degree that involved her working with animals.

“She wanted to open a vet clinic out here on the reservation because we don’t have one of those,” said Alicia Charlie, her mother. “She’s just so bright and out there, very friendly.”

The circumstances surrounding Briana Charlie’s death are still unclear. Honolulu Police classified her death as "unattended" but did not reveal details.

“I don’t want to think about how or why,” said her father. “I know she was having a good night, enjoying herself. She was sending videos to her sister just moments before. She was in good spirits, having a good time -- that’s what I want to think about.”

Credit: Charlie Family

Briana Charlie was the oldest of five. Her family said she was an adventurer who is now teaching them to enjoy life every day like it was their last.

“I’m happy that she went out with a bang in Hawaii, but she was where she wanted to be,” her brother, Jacob Charlie said. “I feel like there was still a lot more as siblings, as family, I feel like there’s a lot more that she could show us about bonding and building memories.”

Briana Charlie was from Salt River but spent most of her childhood growing up in Fayetteville, N.C. where her father was stationed.

Her family is part of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

The Charlie family is now going through the process of getting Briana’s body back to Arizona. They have set up a GoFundMe account to help with the transportation and funeral expenses.

“She’s loved, we miss her,” Al Charlie said. “She brought something to all of us and we’ll remember her forever.”

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