Woman set ablaze, husband arrested

LIHU’E — Kaua’i police have charged Gregory Aguiar, 49, with attempted murder

for allegedly pouring a flammable liquid on his wife and setting her ablaze on

Sunday morning at their home on Pualei Street in ‘Ele’ele.

Police

investigators said the 11:12 a.m. incident was triggered by a domestic

argument.

The victim, identified by neighbors as Muilan Aguiar, 40,

suffered third-degree burns over 85 percent of her body, and is in critical

condition at Straub Hospital on O’ahu.

She was initially treated at Wilcox

Hospital and was sent to the O’ahu hospital for more intensive

treatment.

Had she not run from her home at 4554 Pualei Street to a

neighbors home across the street to hose herself down with water, she would

have died, neighbors said.

Neighbors said they were stunned by what they

saw.

She was a ball of fire running across the street, said Mana Makua,

who lives across the street from the victim and was the first to call police

for help.

Makua said she was in her home shortly before 11 a.m. when she

said she heard screaming from the Aguiar household.

“I saw a fire in the

kitchen and ran back into my house to call the fire department,” Makua said.

“Then I saw the fire come out of the house. It was Mrs. Aguiar. She was

smoldering. It was an awful sight.”

Dorothy Lewis, who lives next door to

the Aguiars, said Mrs. Aguiars screaming drove her out of her house.

“She

was screaming three or four times, Help me, help me,” Lewis said. “I was

wondering what was going on. Then. I saw.”

Mrs. Aguiar’s blouse, Lewis

said, had been burned off her back. “And I could see her arms were

burnt.”

Had the woman not hosed herself off, Makua said, she would have

died. “She saved herself by doing that, I think.”

Makua’s husband and

another neighbor also helped extinguish the womans flaming clothes.

Before

she was taken to the hospital, Mrs. Aguiar asked Makua to call her workplace —

Home Infusion Associates in Lihu’e — to say she wasn’t going to make it to

work. The company serves individuals who are infirmed and require medical care

at home.

Mrs. Aguiar also asked Makua to call family members, including

her daughter to pick up her granddaughter, who had been staying at the Aguiar

home. “She was terribly worried about the child,” Makua said. “She wanted the

child safe.”

Two other youths who stayed in the Aguiar household were

placed in the care of relatives on the island, Makua said.

American

Medical Response paramedics and firefighters from Hanapepe subsequently arrived

on the scene and administered aid.

Meanwhile, Gregory Aguiar fled the

scene, but surrendered to Kaua’i police in the Numila area, within two miles of

the Aguiar home. He was arrested about 1 p.m.

Aguiar was confined at the

Kaua’i Community Correctional Center after he failed to post $100,000

bail.

He is scheduled to be arraigned in Koloa District Court on

Wednesday.

A motive hasn’t been clearly determined.

Kaua’i Police Lt.

Bill Ching said the victim had been estranged from Aguiar at times and they had

quarreled over relationships with other people. “He just snapped,” Ching

said.

Makua said the couple quarreled over Mrs. Aguiar putting in too many

hours at work.

Neighbors described Aguiar as a pleasant and quiet man and

said they were shocked to hear he had been charged with the crime.

“He

loved his plants. He loved to go fishing, and he had the best Christmas display

in the neighbor,” Makua said. “He was always friendly.”

Mrs. Lei Niau,

another neighbor, said the crime rocked her.

” I never expected something

like this to happen,” Niau said. “I never heard them argue. They seem like nice

people.”

Aguiar is employed by Kaua’i Coffee in Numila. He was arrested in

the past for driving under the influence, Ching said.

After the incident,

a Kaua’i Fire Department Haz Mat team began an investigation to determine what

type of flammable liquid was used, Battalion Chief Ernest Moniz Jr. said.

“We had some information, but we cannot give out the exact chemical. We just

have the breakdown, hydrocarbons and things like that,” Moniz said.

Makua

said “the sight of the burning blouse on a human being is something I will

never forget.”

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