Friday, January 29, 1999

Statute expires
on Waimanalo hit-
and-run cyclist

The victim, now nearly 7,
has a metal plate in his head and
difficulty with school

By Rod Ohira


Sometimes the bad guy wins.

Yesterday was one of those times as the statute of limitations ran out on a Jan. 28, 1996, hit-and-run case, denying a Waimanalo family the satisfaction -- at least -- of closure.

It means Vicky and Vance Wago must accept the fact that the person who injured their young son, Dayton, can never be prosecuted for what he did.

"One day, God will catch him," Vance Wago said yesterday.

On Super Bowl Sunday three years ago, Dayton was struck by a speeding motorcycle in front of his home at 41-962 Bell St. The boy was left lying on the roadway with his skull cracked. Bone about the size of a half-dollar was pushed into the boy's brain.

Although no one was ever charged, it doesn't mean police traffic investigators, the boy's parents and others in the neighborhood don't know who did it.

"It's very frustrating for us because my son will have to live with this for the rest of his life," Vance Wago said.

Detective Letha DeCaires, HPD's CrimeStoppers coordinator, said police received three good tips following a last-ditch appeal for public assistance last November.

"We tried to interview a possible suspect, but he asked for an attorney," DeCaires said. "The case was presented to the prosecutor but we didn't have enough.

"Officers pay a personal price for cases like these because they can't give closure to the family and know a perpetrator is not being held accountable."

Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle says the investigation might have been successful had the November tipsters acted earlier.

"It's a shame because it would have given police a better chance," Carlisle said. "People who know something significant and don't tell us are allowing the crime to occur.

"I feel very badly for the family, knowing there's somebody out there who destroyed the life of a child and not having a problem with it."

DeCaires says the vehicular homicide investigation team assigned worked hard on the case but never had a good chance to resolve it.

"There was a miscommunication at the beginning and the consequence was traffic got notified late," DeCaires said. "The team was working backward from the beginning and the community was closed for them in terms of the case.

"But they stuck with it and tracked all the leads. They even brought the helicopter out several times to look for the motorcycle."

The investigators, especially Darryl Kon, "did everything they could," Vance Wago says. "We thank them and people for their prayers and support."

The incident has placed a heavy burden on the family.

"We've lived in hell ever since it happened," Vance Wago said. "My son is not the same person as before, and I almost divorced my wife three times. We've hit rock bottom."

Dayton, two months shy of his seventh birthday, has a metal plate in his head and is struggling in school.

"He still has nightmares because of what happened," the boy's father said.

Vicky Wago, meanwhile, was seriously ill in December. "I almost lost my wife then and now the doctors think she may have cancer," Vance Wago said. "Our tree is getting chopped down real fast.

"There's a lot of stress but we're managing with the help of friends and relatives."

Super Bowl Sunday is no longer a happy time for the Wagos.

"For us it's Super Bowl Sad Day," Vance Wago said. "We don't watch or think about it anymore, it's just too painful."

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