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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Waikiki man 'gravely ill' after harbor plunge

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

Friends of a local mortgage broker said he fell into the water at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor on Friday and now is in serious condition.

Oliver Johnson of Waikiki is hospitalized at The Queen's Medical Center with type A strep infection, friends close to him said yesterday. Johnson had his left leg amputated on Monday night and doctors have told friends and family members that it is necessary to amputate his other leg and possibly both arms, according to his friends.

"He's gravely ill," said retail consultant Stefany Sofos, one of Johnson's close friends. Another of Johnson's friends gave the same account but asked not to be identified.

The state Department of Health has not been notified about this incident, said department spokeswoman Janice Okubo. The city also has no information about the incident, said city spokesman Bill Brennan.

Okubo said it would be difficult to directly link an infection to waters off the Ala Wai Canal. People are generally warned not to enter water if they have open cuts or lesions, because infections contracted through ocean waters are common, she said.

Details about incidents leading up to Johnson's hospitalization are not clear. However, friends said that on Thursday night Johnson went out to a Waikiki bar and later somehow ended up in the Ala Wai Boat Harbor.

Johnson did have cuts on parts of his body before ending up in the water but the origin of the injuries was unclear, said Sofos. She said that Johnson was evaluated by city paramedics and taken to the Queen's emergency room and later released.

"We don't know what he said to the doctors though we have a feeling that he might not have said anything about falling into the Ala Wai," Sofos said.

Emergency Medical Services officials could not confirm last night whether Johnson was indeed evaluated by paramedics. There were calls for falls and for traumatic injuries in the Waikiki area and near Ala Wai, EMS officials said.

On Sunday Johnson complained to friends that his legs were swollen and he was in throbbing pain, Sofos said. She said he was taken to Queen's and that doctors said he was experiencing septic shock an overwhelming infection that shuts down organs. He also had pneumonia and a type A strep infection, friends said.

"The doctors have identified that he has a flesh-eating bacteria in his system," said Sofos.

Early yesterday morning, Johnson went into cardiac arrest and is on life support, said Sofos. Doctors had requested to amputate a second leg and both arms, she said. But Johnson's mother, who recently arrived from Florida, asked doctors not to perform any other amputation, said Sofos.

Johnson's friends are urging people to stay out of contaminated waters.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.