Maui News

VIDEO: Molokai Police Officers Honored for Heroism in Out-of-Control Vehicle Assist

February 16, 2011, 11:49 AM HST
* Updated February 18, 11:31 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Molokai Police Officers were honored today for their heroism in responding to help a resident unable to stop his vehicle from speeding out of control. Photo by Wendy Osher.

[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DvyrvqUl_8 /] The Maui Police Department honored four members of the Department today for an act of heroism late last year involving a resident calling for help from an out-of-control vehicle.

“I can’t think of a more important day than today when we celebrate and thank our officers for an extreme job well done,” said Chief Gary Yabuta.

Chief Yabuta called the heroism demonstrated by the Molokai officers, “a sincere act of bravery and success in lifesaving.”

Honored today were Officer Kyle Bishaw-Juario, who received the civil medal of valor; and Radio Telephone Operator Chris Neuhart, Sgt. Randy Esperanza, and Officer Stafford Caparido who were awarded certificate of merits.

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On Saturday, December 18, 2010, at approximately 9:54 a.m., Molokai Dispatcher, RTO Chris Neuhart received an emergency 911 phone call from a 19-year-old distressed male, Gaig Yap.  Yap explained that he was traveling towards town on Maunaloa Highway and that his vehicle was locked in gear.

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Yap stated that he was unable to slow the vehicle down, turn the vehicle engine off, or apply the emergency brakes.  “Yap was very frantic, as he felt that he would end up crashing his vehicle, where-by leaving him seriously injured or even dead,” said Lt. Leighton Kanahele of the Molokai District.

Officer Caparido was the first officer to observe Yap’s vehicle as it passed him at a high rate of speed on Maunaloa Highway. Caparido reported the information to dispatch, but by the time he turned his vehicle around, Yap’s vehicle was much further in-front of him and still heading into town.

It was estimated that Yap was traveling at approximately 70 to 80 mph, but according to the dispatch tape, it appears that Yap could have been traveling in excess of 100 mph.

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Officer Kyle Bishaw-Juario, who was closer to Kaunakakai town, observed the vehicle as it was approaching the town limits where an estimated 100 plus people were in town that day for a Christmas Craft Fair.

Figuring that the vehicle was out of control, and that the town was crowded with motorists and pedestrians, Officer Bishaw-Juario positioned his patrol car in front of Yap’s vehicle, just before the intersection of Alamalama Avenue and Maunaloa Highway.  He kept pace in front of Yap’s vehicle and let Yap’s bumper touch his patrol vehicle’s rear bumper.

Once the two bumpers came together, Officer Bishaw-Juario took it upon himself to apply his brakes hard and slow the other vehicle down. Yap’s vehicle continued to push the patrol vehicle forward over 100 yards before it came to a final stop.

He was successful in stopping the vehicle’s movement and both vehicles came to a rest fronting the Paddler’s Restaurant on Kamehameha V Highway, where Yap’s vehicle continued to run for a short while before the motor blew and turned itself off.

After both vehicles were stopped, Yap could be heard crying out of thanks and relief on his cell phone, which was still connected to the Molokai Dispatch Center.

Molokai police successfully intercepted a runaway vehicle that was traveling at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour. The driver, Gaig Yap, made the initial 911 call at 9:54 a.m. on Saturday, December 18, 2010 saying he was unable to slow the vehicle down, according to Maui Police.

The 19-year-old Kualapuu man was driving a 1993 Honda Civic, and told dispatchers that he was unable to shift gears or effectively slow the car using the vehicles brakes or emergency brakes, said Maui police.

The runaway vehicle was traveling east on Maunaloa Highway near Kalamaula when responding Officer Stafford Caparida witnessed the vehicle pass him in the opposite direction.

Maui Police say a second officer, Officer Kyle Bishaw-Juario, was able to maneuver his vehicle in front of the runaway car as both were traveling at speeds of 70-80 mph.

According to police reports, the officer allowed Yap’s vehicle to touch the bumper of the patrol car, and attempted to slow both vehicles by applying the brakes. Both cars continued for more than 100 yards before coming to a rest fronting the Paddlers’ Restaurant.

Out of concern for public safety, the supervisor on duty, Sergeant Randy Esperanza positioned his vehicle further ahead of Brishaw-Juario, and began alerting motorists and clearing the highway of traffic.

Captain Wallace Tom, the Molokai Patrol District Commander, noted that the vehicle was stopped before reaching the congested Maunaloa Highway and Alamalama Avenue intersection in Kaunakakai Town.

Both the officer and Yap escaped without injury. Maui Police say the out-of-control vehicle sustained a cracked front grill and scratches to the bumper, while the patrol vehicle sustained scratches to its rear bumper.

According to police records, the 911 call was received by Molokai Radio Telephone Operator Chris Neuhart, who handled the radio communications of the field officers.

(Supporting information provided by MPD)

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