Tracing Oliver Johnson's final hours
Exactly how a man fell into the Ala Wai and contracted a fatal infection remains unclear
MUCH MORE is known about what Oliver Johnson was doing before falling in the Ala Wai Boat Harbor -- a fall that would lead to his death and would horrify Honolulu residents -- but key pieces of the puzzle are still missing.
Police still do not know whether he fell, jumped, or was pushed into the water, nor where or when such an event happened. And they want the public's help in solving the mystery.
Anyone with information about the case or who might have seen Oliver Johnson in the early morning hours of March 31 or later that day is asked to call Detective Roland Takasato at 529-3358.
Johnson died April 6 from complications due to a massive bacterial infection that ravaged his body, an infection his family believes he contracted while in the boat harbor -- contaminated with feces after the city diverted 48 million gallons of raw sewage into the Ala Wai Canal when a 42-inch main broke on March 24.
His death was widely publicized, as friends of Johnson peppered the media with warnings to stay out of the water.
While he could still talk, Johnson told several friends how he ended up in the harbor.
But there are several versions of the story, a key problem for police investigators.
In one story, he fought with another man in the early morning of March 31 and was forced into the harbor.
In another version, he jumped into the harbor to escape his opponent. Other stories tell of him falling into the harbor accidentally.
After Johnson died, police had trouble verifying the stories and could not account for his whereabouts between the early morning hours of the 31st and later that evening.
But officers have managed to close about a 13-hour gap and are still asking the public for any information that could help them determine Johnson's activities between Thursday night, March 30, and Friday afternoon, March 31.
THIS IS WHAT is known, according to police and other sources:
According to eyewitness accounts, credit card records, and security camera surveillance videos, Johnson closed out a $41 bar tab at Harbor Pub between 1:45 and 2 a.m. on March 31.
Johnson had started drinking there earlier that evening with a friend who worked at the pub. But after closing out the tab, he spent time with another man named "Marcus" or "Mark," and the man's girlfriend in the area of the Hawaii Yacht Club, near the Harbor Pub.
It has not been determined what the three were doing, since the bar at the Hawaii Yacht Club closes at 10 p.m. on weekdays. Sources said the trio might have continued to party on a nearby boat, one of several boats "Marcus" is employed to care for, or in front of the yacht club itself for about an hour.
Between 3 and 4 a.m., sources said, Johnson asked Marcus for a ride from the Hawaii Yacht Club back to his apartment building, the Tradewinds, at 1720 Ala Moana Blvd.
"Marcus" asked Johnson to jump into the back of his truck, but instead Johnson is said to have gotten into the front cab with the girlfriend, against her wishes.
"Marcus" allegedly became angry at Johnson and headbutted him in the face once, but told friends he did not knock him into the water. The man and his girlfriend got in their truck and left, leaving Johnson behind.
Johnson made it home and swiped his electronic key card at the Tradewinds lobby between 4 and 4:30 a.m. Since Johnson does not have to swipe his card to leave the building, there is no record of what time he left the next day.
Security video shows him at the ABC store next door to his building at the store at 1:13 p.m. on March 31. Credit card records indicate he spent about $6.50.
Investigators were unable to pinpoint where Johnson went after the ABC stop, and his next recorded appearance was around 5 p.m., when he went to Discovery Bay and spent $7 on his credit card for beer at a market.
Between 5:15 and 5:30 p.m., Tradewinds security records show Johnson swiped his card to enter the lobby of the building, when he was noticed by security guard David Dillener.
In his incident log, Dillener noted that Johnson "stumbled up drunk on property and refuses treatment" for what appeared to be an open wound on his forehead above his left eye and other cuts on his hands and feet.
Dillener said two other building residents tried to help Johnson. Finally, an ambulance was called to take him to get emergency care at about 6 p.m.
Before the ambulance left, a policeman arrived and took down a third-degree assault report for the incident earlier that morning at the harbor.
Notes written by the medical technician in the ambulance said that Johnson was awake and knew his name, where he was and what year it was, but not the month or day of the week.
The ambulance report also states that according to Johnson, he had been "drinking excessive amounts of alcohol for numerous days" and that at 3 a.m. that day he had been "involved in an altercation."
The paramedic also noted Johnson's injuries: a hematoma and laceration to the forehead, a black eye and swollen nose. He also had multiple abrasions and lacerations to his knee and hand.
Although Dillener's security log shows Johnson initially was headed toward Straub Clinic & Hospital, he was rerouted because of his injuries to the Queen's Medical Center, where he was treated for a sprain to the knee and open wounds to his foot and face, according to hospital discharge papers.
He was also given instructions to follow up with a doctor within three days or "as needed if symptoms worsen." Johnson was discharged from Queen's at 7:43 p.m.
By the time paramedics saw Johnson again, it was about 11 a.m. on April 2, and this time he called for them himself. The ambulance report from that day noted that Johnson was suffering from "pain, swelling, and discoloration" to his left leg, had no appetite and felt like he was going to "pass out."
Oliver Johnson, shown hospitalized at the Queen's Medical Center, swelled to about three times his normal size and suffered organ failures before his family took him off life support.
AT QUEEN'S, it was determined that Johnson was suffering from pneumonia, failed kidneys and that he had gone into septic shock.
Over the next several days, Johnson swelled to about three times his normal size, suffered major organ failure and his left leg was amputated above the knee.
Johnson's family took him off life support on April 6.