LIHU’E — If you’re lucky, you’ll never know the feeling, the sensation, of a motor vehicle crawling up your back and ripping you from the back of a motorcycle, said Lisa Wilson.
While many people have heard bits and pieces of her harrowing story, which is still the subject of at least one court case involving the alleged perpetrator, Byron Say of Hanalei, this was the first time she has gone into detail about that afternoon and the aftermath, in her own tail words, in public, while also thanking all the Kaua’i blood donors at the annual Blood Bank of Hawaii donor-recognition luncheon at the Kaua’i Marriott Resort & Beach Club recently.
Wilson recalls going slowly on the back of friend Steve Wheeler’s motorcycle, heading toward Hanalei town just after crossing the one-lane bridge over the Hanalei River, when disaster struck.
Wheeler is a safe driver, she said.
All of a sudden, Wilson, a passenger on Wheeler’s motorcycle, felt something ripping her from the back of the bike, and remembers watching Wheeler go flying over the handlebars of the bike.
The next thing she knew, she was being dragged underneath the truck driven by Say, who failed to stop his vehicle and was later found hiding in a taro field before he was arrested by Kaua’i Police Department officers.
Wilson’s head and helmet were wedged under the front of the truck until the helmet finally popped off, she said, fighting back tears after admitting to a crowd of around 100 people that she isn’t a comfortable public speaker.
A tire ran over her chest, collapsing both of her lungs, she continued. She required surgery to remove her spleen, suffered injuries to both shoulders, 10 fractured ribs, multiple fractures of her pelvis, and required a lot of blood, she said.
“My need for blood was imperative, and I am eternally grateful to all you donors,” she said.
“My life changed in an instant,” and the same thing could happen to anyone in the room, she said. “You may have an imperative need for blood, too.”
“My road to recovery will be long. I’ll be (a donor) as soon as I’m able,” she said.
Walking with a slight limp and favoring one of her arms, she also pleaded for public support to put Say away when his trial comes up.
“Help me bring him to justice in April,” Wilson said, lamenting the fact that the man who nearly ended her life is a free man today, walking and driving around on Kaua’i.
“The incident changed my life, and I’ll always be grateful to blood donors who made it possible for me to be here today.”
She required around seven pints (units) of blood, which may seem a small amount when considering several people in the room listening to her story have donated well over 100 pints over the years.
But it was blood that she says kept her alive, and for that she will always be grateful, she continued. “I did receive a lot of blood,” over 1,600 milliliters.
“Kaua’i, you overwhelmed me,” she said of the donors of blood, and those who offered prayers and other words of support.
“I’m a living example of the fact that you never know when you or someone you love will need blood,” she added.
Wilson, a Hanapepe resident who lived in Po’ipu for 20 years, at one time was a choreographer of two Kaua’i Junior Miss pageants.
She said she fell in love with Kaua’i when she arrived in 1978.
A fund-raiser to help with her medical expenses netted more than $20,000 at Joe’s on the Green last year, an amount that pales considering Wilson has no medical insurance as an independent contractor who previously cleaned homes on the island.
“The Kaua’i community is my home now,” said Wilson, who concluded her remarks by singing a few lines from a Carole King song, “You’re Beautiful as You Feel.”
“Lisa, that was beautiful,” said Keli’i Kaneali’i, the other afterlunch entertainer.
Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste declared January Volunteer Blood Donor Month on Kaua’i, and long-time donors, Lifesavers Club coordinators, sponsors of blood drives, members of the Friends for Life Committee, advisers to Blood Bank of Hawaii leaders, were all recognized.
There are dozens of Kauaians who are Super Donors (donating 56 or more pints of blood), a handful of Century Donors (100 or more pints), and one Super Pheresis Donor, Jacqueline Weber of Waimea.
Platelet apheresis donors undergo a special process on O’ahu that takes only platelets from the blood, and returns the blood back to their bodies. It takes a bit longer than the regular one-hour blood donation. Full-unit platelets equal the amount of platelets separated from six to 10 wholeblood donations.
Professionals with the Blood Bank of Hawaii mobile unit visit Kaua’i for blood drives Monday at Kapa’a High School, Tuesday at the Kaua’i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu’e, and Wednesday at Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Call toll-free 1-800-372- 9966 for appointments and more information.
- Paul C. Curtis, associate editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or email@example.com.