Hawaii acknowledges failures after dangerous patient escapesNovember 16, 2017 5:22am

HONOLULU (AP) — A dangerous Hawaii psychiatric patient who escaped a state hospital and flew to California before being captured Wednesday has prompted an investigation into why employees appeared to fail to do their jobs.

Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the Hawaii Department of Health, said an internal inquiry indicated that workers inadvertently or intentionally neglected to supervise Randall Saito and notify their supervisors.

The apparent failures were spread through several shifts of workers, she said.

Seven hospital staff members were being placed on unpaid leave Wednesday for 30 days and more may be identified as the investigation continues, the department said in a statement.

Saito was gone at least eight hours before hospital staff alerted authorities.

Saito on Sunday left the 202-bed Hawaii State Hospital outside Honolulu, where he has been committed for 36 years since being acquitted of murder by reason of insanity. He took a taxi to a chartered plane bound for the island of Maui and then boarded another plane to San Jose, California, authorities said.

It wasn't immediately known how he was able to charter a plane, and police wouldn't provide details about his flight to California. Attorney General Doug Chin said the escape was planned and an investigation would include an examination of whether Saito had any accomplices.

"We were dismayed to learn that Hawaii State Hospital escapee Randall Saito used an alias to charter a flight on one of our planes from Honolulu to Maui on Sunday," said a statement Wednesday from luxury charter flight company Royal Pacific Air.

Video footage from inside the taxi that drove Saito to the chartered flight shows him using a cellphone after climbing in with a large backpack. He tells the driver he's in a rush to catch a flight.

During the ride, he made two calls. "I'm on my way," Saito said to someone he called Mickey. "We just made the freeway, so, um, we should be there very shortly."

A few minutes later he made another call: "Is this the captain that's going to fly to Maui today? Hi. Hi, it's me. I'm on my way."

Saito was captured in Stockton on Wednesday morning as the result of a tip from an alert taxi driver, the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department said. The agency posted a photo on social media showing Saito surrounded by three deputies at a gas station.

Saito has been charged with felony escape, and the attorney general said the breakout was not planned by someone suffering from a "mental defect."

Hospital workers had called 911 to report Saito's disappearance shortly after 7:30 p.m. Sunday — two hours after he landed in California, Honolulu police said. An all-points bulletin went out an hour later.

Gov. David Ige said authorities and the public should have been notified much sooner and directed Chin to investigate.

He said the state has started reviewing patient privileges and public visitation policies at the hospital to determine if they are appropriate. It's also boosting the frequency of unannounced patient searches and ordering more fencing.

Saito was sent to the hospital in 1981 after acknowledging he shot Sandra Yamashiro with a pellet gun and then repeatedly stabbed her in her car, which was parked at a shopping mall, according to court records.

"He is a very dangerous individual," said Wayne Tashima, a Honolulu prosecutor who argued in 2015 against Saito receiving passes to leave the hospital grounds without an escort.

Defense attorneys sought to have Saito released in 2000. But Jeff Albert, a deputy city prosecutor, objected, saying Saito "fills all the criteria of a classic serial killer."

In 1993, a court denied Saito's request for conditional release, saying he still suffered from sexual sadism and necrophilia.

Psychiatrists who evaluated him over the years also said he could be personable, charming and had good social skills.

Dr. Gene Altman, who evaluated Saito in 2010, said he had six significant relationships since being committed in 1981. Three of those were reportedly with hospital staff members and the others were with women in the community, including Saito's first and second wives, according to Altman's assessment, filed in court records.

Irving Tam, who has lived near the hospital for about 30 years, said he heard about the escape from a neighbor, not the police, hospital or media, and that patients have gotten out several times in the past.

"When they do escape, especially someone with this kind of a record, there is a high degree of concern, he could be violent and who knows," Tam said Tuesday.

___

Associated Press writer Caleb Jones in Honolulu contributed to this report.

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

FILE- In this Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, file photo, the Hawaii State Hospital is shown in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Randall Saito, who walked out of the psychiatric hospital and made it to California before being captured, says he's surprised his escape worked. The 59-year-old Saito was arrested on Wednesday for investigation of felony escape. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)
Hawaii psychiatric patient says he's surprised escape worked
The Latest: Witness: No siren on police car that killed 2A witness says a Los Angeles County sheriff's vehicle wasn't using its sirens or lights before it crashed with another car, jumped a curb and killed two small boys
FILE - In this Friday Nov. 3, 2017 file photo, Katrina Johnson becomes emotional at the South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk, Iowa after the jury returned a guilty verdict for Jorge Sanders-Galvez in the death of Johnson's transgender child, 16-year-old Kedarie Johnson. At least 25 transgender Americans have been homicide victims as of mid-November 2017, the highest annual total this decade, according to advocacy groups that have been monitoring the grim phenomenon and seeking ways to reduce the toll. (John Lovretta/The Hawk Eye via AP, Pool)
Advocacy groups: Killings of transgender people increase
2 charged after dad killed defending young son from theftPolice have arrested two people after the fatal stabbing of a New Jersey man who relatives say was trying to defend his 8-year-old son from being robbed
Baltimore detective dies after being shot on dutyA Baltimore homicide detective who was shot in the head while conducting an investigation has died
FILE - This Sept. 18, 2015 file booking photo provided by the New Britain Police Department shows William Devin Howell, who killed seven people in Connecticut in 2003. Howell pleaded guilty to six murder charges in September and is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. He’s also serving a 15-year prison sentence for manslaughter in the seventh victim’s death. (New Britain Police Department via AP, File)
Killer of 7 in Connecticut sentenced to life in prison
This component is currently unavailable.
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

AdChoices