"I'm trying to get her into some kind of help, you know, because she's doing all these kinds of things to herself, but she has this thing where she doesn't want to leave me."
In 911 call about Alexis, 10
911 tape indicates
girl fell ill rapidly
A Puna woman's call
offers a grim glimpse
of emotional distress
HILO » A caretaker for a 10-year-old girl who is in critical condition with festering wounds apparently told authorities that the girl's condition got bad in just a day or two, according to a 911 tape released yesterday by the Hawaii County Fire Department.
Hyacinth Poouahi called 911 on Feb. 7 to report the poor condition of a girl called Alexis, who inflicted wounds on herself while in Poouahi's care for several months.
But the 5 1/2-minute edited version of the 911 tape released by the Fire Department yesterday leaves an uncertain picture. Some information was cut out, and some of Poouahi's statements are unclear.
The first few moments of the tape are missing. Assistant Fire Chief Curtis Matsui confirmed omissions but did not give a reason.
Alexis has been in "extremely critical" condition at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children since Feb. 7.
About a week after the 911 call, police said abuse was involved, and the case is being investigated as endangering the welfare of a minor. Police declined to make any new statement yesterday.
Later Poouahi told the Star-Bulletin that Alexis had emotional problems linked to the girl's mother. Those problems prompted the girl to pick at minor injuries until they became major, she said.
The girl's condition worsened substantially three or four days before Feb. 7, Poouahi told the Star-Bulletin.
On the tape, Poouahi indicates the time was even shorter.
"It was like maybe a day or two ago," she told the 911 dispatcher. "It's like she really smells bad," she said.
A county paramedic vomited at the smell, which has been interpreted to indicate an infection, possibly widespread since there were open sores on several parts of her body.
The 911 tape throws little light on another injury reported previously, part of the girl's upper lip bitten off.
Near the beginning of the tape, the 911 call taker says, "She purposely bit off the part of her lip."
A portion of the tape is missing before that statement. Toward the end of the 5 1/2 minutes, Poouahi brings it up again, this time referring to the girl's lower lip.
"It's like, uh, you know, even her bottom lip," Poouahi says in a voice trembling and close to crying. "She was trying to bite that, too, and when my husband had asked her, she said that she's just biting it because it's in the way."
There is no indication of when the lip-biting took place.
Poouahi's voice is matter-of-fact for the first four minutes of the tape, then changes to one of a person in tears for the remainder.
Police had said the girl was in Poouahi's care for three months before the 911 call. On the tape, Poouahi says, "I've only had her since October."
The principal of Alexis' school said the girl did not return after winter break. The reason was medical, the school was told.
On the 911 tape, Poouahi said the girl started injuring herself about then.
"I'm trying to get her into some kind of help, you know, because she's doing all these kinds of things to herself, but she has this thing where she doesn't want to leave me," she told the 911 call taker. "She's like self-inflicting herself."
"All I know is ever since like a month ago, when she knew that we were, I was trying to get her help, some kind of psychological help, because I couldn't help her in my home, she started doing all kind of things."
Those things included urinating in her pants, Poouahi said.
When paramedics found the girl, she was lying on a concrete patio. On the tape, the call taker tells Poouahi not to move her to prevent further injury.
The girl's other injuries included pulled-out hair, "pukas" or holes "in her head," and swollen hands and legs, Poouahi said.
The girl had black marks on her that Poouahi said might have been caused by something biting her when she was in a small lava cave behind the house. The tape does not say how recently the girl was in the cave.
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Excerpts from a plea for help
Here are excerpts of the 911 emergency call made by Hyacinth Poouahi to the Fire Department on Feb. 7 regarding Alexis, 10, the Puna girl now in "extremely critical" condition at Kapiolani Medical Center:
Poouahi: "And, uh, she was doing like, I've only had her since October, but she's done all kind of stuff, like, you know, really bad things like to herself."
Poouahi: "Um, I don't know, she went, she went into a lava tube. I don't know if she got bit. She was, it was like maybe a day or two ago, but it's like she really smells bad, she ..."
Poouahi: "I'm trying to, uh, get her into some kind of help, you know, because she's, she's doing all this kind of things to herself, but she has this thing where doesn't want to leave me. And she's wants ..."
Dispatcher: "She purposely bit off the part of her lip."
Poouahi: "Yeah, and she's like self-inflicting herself."
Dispatcher: "What other injuries?"
Poouahi: "I don't, she has, uh, she has, uh, pukas like in her head. She's pulling out her hair. She, uh, I don't know, she just, I don't know, she just doesn't want to get up, I don't know, something bit her or what. But I mean, she, she won't get up, Dad. She won't."
Poouahi: "I don't know, uh, the bruises, looks like some kind of, I don't know, if something bit her or what, but she's got, she got holes in the head, she got like cuts. I tried to take care of her."
Dispatcher: "Where are the bruises?"
Poouahi: "Uh, it's on top her foot, there's one on her foot, one on top her ankle, she has like one on her, like, uh, it all looks the same, yeah, like on her cheek."
Dispatcher: "You think she did something to hurt herself ..."
Poouahi: "She, she said she did. And she pinched her eyes till it closed. (Man's voice in background) Yeah, she pinched her eyes till it like it's closed shut.
"And when everybody asks her, like, uh, you know, people who come over and stuff, they asked her why she did this, and she said because she doesn't want to leave me. But you know, she cannot stay here, that's why I was trying to get her help. I have five other children."