Dannygriggs Padayao's longtime companion maintained her composure when she told students at Leilehua High School how a pickup truck struck the Honolulu police officer so hard that his body left a large dent on the front of the truck.
Her graphic account underscores
the perils of driving while drunk
By Nelson Daranciang
Donna Borengasser kept her emotions in check when she told them how Padayao was thrown into the path of another vehicle, which also struck him, then ran over him.
She still remained calm when she described his skull fracture, which prevented her from holding Padayao after he had already died for fear the back of his skull would fall off, spilling his brains.
It was only later, away from the students, when she talked about the letters she received from school children, did Borengasser break down, for just a moment.
"It was quite wonderful because the kids ... we had so many letters come in from the elementary schools 'cause he just loved them ... and how much they miss him," she said, fighting back tears.
Padayao loved working with children and had planned to become a school teacher when he retired from the Honolulu Police Department.
Borengasser spoke publicly about Padayao's death for the first time yesterday, on the anniversary of his death.
Padayao, 46, was killed April 30, 2001, while laying flares on Kamehameha Highway near Kualoa Ranch following a traffic accident.
Police arrested a 22-year-old Michigan man for negligent homicide, failure to render aid and driving under the influence of alcohol. He was visiting relatives in Kahaluu at the time. The man returned to Michigan a week later after police released him. The Prosecutor's Office is reviewing the case and is expected to take the matter before an Oahu grand jury in the next few months.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving approached Borengasser in early April to ask her about speaking of the impact a drunken driver had on her life.
"I said I'll do a presentation on April 30th. I think that's the best way to really do something that Danny would have done himself."
Borengasser chose to speak to high school students rather than to adults because of Padayao's love of kids, she said.
She included the gory details of Padayao's death to try to convey the message of the dangers of drinking and driving to the students in terms they can understand.
"Being killed is very different than saying his brains are going to fall off. Girls are very touchy-feely. For them to know that I couldn't hold him means more to them than if I said, 'Yeah, he died and he went to the hospital. End of story,'" she said.
For the boys, she displayed one of Padayao's service coveralls so they could judge the relative size difference between Padayao and the truck.
Borengasser is scheduled to speak again at a special memorial service on May 12. The service for Honolulu police officers who died in the line of duty or while still on active service kicks off Police Week.
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