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Sunday, April 16, 2006
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Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Man dying after fall into polluted Ala Wai
34-year-old mortgage loan officer Oliver Johnson has flesh-eating disease
A 34-year-old mortgage loan officer is near death with a flesh-eating disease after falling into the polluted waters of the Ala Wai Boat Harbor last week, according to his friends.
Friends of Oliver Johnson said his doctors at the Queen's Medical Center diagnosed him with necrotizing fasciitis, a Group A streptococcal infection that "destroys muscles, fat and skin tissue," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The disease forced the amputation of his left leg above the knee Monday, his friends said. His body also went into Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome, which causes blood pressure to drop rapidly and all major organs to fail, they said.
"Oh, my God, you can't even recognize him anymore," said Zobel Dela Cruz, a friend of Johnson. "He's all swollen up and he looks like he's 350 pounds.
"We just want everybody to know so they don't go in the water."
Johnson had been drinking at a bar across the street from his one-bedroom condominium at the Tradewinds before he fell into the boat harbor early Friday morning, Dela Cruz said. He had cut himself while climbing out and had open wounds on his feet and legs.
Over the weekend, Dela Cruz and other friends said, Johnson complained of leg pain. By Sunday, he had trouble breathing and called for an ambulance to take him to Queen's, where he was later placed on life support, they said.
Though friends said no doctor has linked Johnson's condition to Friday's fall into the harbor, they see it as too big of a coincidence to ignore.
Heavy rains on March 24 caused a Waikiki sewer main to break, leading city officials to divert 48 million gallons of raw sewage into the Ala Wai Canal. On Friday, another deluge knocked out power to a pumping station, causing another 1.8 million gallons of sewage to spill into the canal, which leads into the harbor.
"Because of this, falling into the Ala Wai water, he's just lost his leg, his liver shut down and his kidneys have shut down," said friend Stephany Sofos. "Doctors said in order for him to survive, they may have to remove his other leg and left arm."
State Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said health officials were unaware of the incident involving Johnson and could not confirm what happened.
"We do urge people not to go into the water with open wounds," Okubo said. "If you do and you don't clean them, an infection could set in a matter of days."
Sofos said Johnson was a surfer and runner and lived an active lifestyle.
With a south shore swell coming in, she warned anyone who might be thinking about hitting the waves to think about her friend first.
"Don't be stupid. If this can happen to a healthy 34-year-old man, think about what can happen to your children," she said. "He was such a great man, wonderful guy, he'd give you the shirt off his back.
"And then something like this happens and you wonder, 'Why him?'"