Saturday, July 30, 2005

Curtis Vires was one of three workers honored yesterday as the driver who spotted and reported a stolen vehicle with baby inside on June 22. After the ceremony, Vires held his two kids, Kiylee (2, who wants a hug) and 4-year-old son Tristan. His wife, Jamie Vires, is hidden behind Kiylee. Vires gathered his kids and was allowed to punched out of work early.

Quick-thinking heroes

Lawmakers recognize the rescuers
of a baby in a stolen truck last month

Three Express delivery employees were honored yesterday for their quick thinking after locating a 4-month-old baby who was kidnapped last month during the theft of a pickup truck.

DHL Worldwide Express customer service representative Hulali Lua-Medeiros, and Honolulu Express dispatcher Lori Joaquin and delivery driver Curtis Vires were presented certificates of appreciation from state representatives for their actions in finding Tauhani Philpotts, who was taken during an auto theft outside the Nuuanu 7-Eleven parking lot on June 22. Honolulu Express is contracted by DHL in Hawaii.

Medeiros was the first to learn of the child abduction from the state's MAILE AMBER alert warning system and told Joaquin, who then text-messaged all her drivers about the situation.

Within 18 minutes Vires had called in and said he found the truck with the baby inside in the parking lot of the First Assembly of God church on Moanalua Road.

Yesterday the three said they appreciated the plaques and leis but said the results of their efforts were satisfying enough.

"Four-month-old baby," said Medeiros. "That's all I had to hear. We had the perfect resources to find her, and I'm glad we used them."

Customer service representative Hulali Lua-Medeiros, delivery driver Curtis Vires and dispatcher Lori Joaquin were presented certificates of appreciation yesterday from state representatives.

The three workers are parents themselves. Medeiros has three children, ages 1 through 6; Vires has a 2-year-old girl and a 4-year-old son; and Joaquin has a 12-year-old daughter whom she thought about constantly as she sent out the word to drivers.

"We found the baby," Joaquin said. "That's all I was worried about."

DHL Express services manager Lance Maeda said he never thought the company's text-messaging system would be used to find missing children. "Not until this happened, but now it makes perfect sense," he said. "We're very proud of them."

On hand to present the certificates were House Speaker Calvin Say and Reps. Jun Abinsay, Michael Kahikina and Blake Oshiro, who said that besides saving the baby, the three heroes were examples of how people can ensure the MAILE AMBER alert system works as it should.

The alert is named after two children who were abducted and murdered: 6-year-old Maile Gilbert, who was taken from her Kailua home in 1985, and 9-year-old Amber Hagerman of Texas, who was killed in 1996. The alert is issued for any victim under 17 years old who is abducted and believed to be in a life-threatening situation.

"They really exemplify the initiative it takes ... because government can only do so much," Oshiro said.

But while little Tauhani is back safe and sound, police have not caught the man who is suspected of stealing the Philpotts pickup truck.

To this day the man who found the baby said while he is making deliveries he still looks for the suspect, described as about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds, with short hair and a goatee.

"For a lot of people he's just a vague memory," Vires said, "but for the Philpottses and the people involved, it's more than just a face in the news."

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