by Alan D. McNarie
Deborah Ward was working on her organic farm near Kurtistown on Monday, July 28, when “I heard some people yelling …I usually know my neighbors, so I went down to say hello.” But when she approached the old railroad right-of-way at the back of her farm, she encountered a blond woman she didn’t know and two dogs, one white and one red, both of which appeared to be pit-bull mixes. The next few moments would cost her two deep gashes in her leg, a mangled hand and an extended hospital stay.
“I said hello, and next thing I know they [the dogs] were both running at me at about 20 miles per hour. He [the red dog] knocked me down bit my leg, and then bit my hand and started chewing on it…. At the time I thought I was going to die. He was within inches of my neck, and I was on the ground bleeding from both legs and being mauled. When she pulled the dog off, I ran as fast as I could, screaming at the top of my lungs and gushing blood, and got on my tractor and drove back to my house with two gaping wounds in my legs and my hand shredded and all the bones broken in multiple places.” After she reached her house, she said, “I screamed for a full ten minutes, and my neighbor came over and asked me if he could help me get to the hospital.” The neighbor drove her to meet the ambulance in Kea’au.
Ward’s son, Ben, later confirmed that the dogs belonged to some voluntary ag workers at a neighboring farm.
Ward is the primary caregiver for her partner, retired biologist Fred Stone, who is paraplegic as the result of a recent fall from a ladder. Her son is currently taking care of Stone, and plans are being made for him to stay with relatives on the mainland while Ward recuperates.
The owners of the dogs declined to comment, but we learned from two different sources that the owners had been attempting to contact the Hawaii Police Department to make a statement about the incident, but that so far the police had not contacted them.
The Chronicle has been attempting to contact the Hawaii Police Department today to find out what, if anything has been done about the dogs and why HPD, nearly six days after the attack, still apparently had interviewed neither the victim nor the dog’s owners. We still haven’t heard back from the police. But a few minutes after e-mailing HPD spokesperson Chris Loos about the situation, we were talking to Ms. Ward on the phone. She suddenly said, “I’ll have to call you back. There’s a policeman outside my door.”
We’ll keep you updated.