By Star-Bulletin Staff

Thursday, April 22, 1999

Woman burned in fire
caused by her cigarette

By Jaymes K. Song, Star-Bulletin

A 54-year-old woman suffering from multiple sclerosis was critically injured in a fire this morning in her third-floor downtown apartment.

The injured woman, Alice Bretschneider, told officials she was smoking in bed.

The fire started at 4:21 a.m. at the Smith Beretania Apartments at 1170 Nuuanu Ave. when Bretschneider dropped a lit cigarette and couldn't reach it, fire officials said. Six fire crews had the fire under control at 4:43 a.m.

Dozens of residents on four floors of the 23-floor structure were evacuated because of smoke. They were allowed to return at 5:15 a.m.

Building maintenance worker Won Sang Shin dragged Bretschneider, who is wheelchair-bound, from her burning bedroom. He was overcome with smoke and collapsed in her hallway.

Security guard Legalo Aivao then dragged her out of the apartment while Shin followed.

"I couldn't see anything because the smoke was so thick," Aivao said. "She was yelling that she was in pain. She was burned from her face, all the way down."

Fire investigator Arthur Brown said the two men should be commended for risking their lives. Several firefighters shook Shin's hand as they left the building.

Aivao said he would help anybody in need, because he expects the same in return from other people.

Bretschneider had second- and third-degree burns to 25 percent of her body, officials said. She was taken to Straub Hospital.

Building personnel said the same woman caused a fire in her apartment about five years ago by smoking. Damage was confined to the bedroom and estimated at $15,000.


Suit filed to protect rare
Maui County plants

The Conservation Council of Hawaii has filed suit against the federal government to try to save 10 rare plants that grow in Maui County.

The council, affiliated with the National Wildlife Federation, wants the plants to be classified as endangered species.

One variety was reported to be down to two surviving specimens growing on Kahoolawe.

Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and Fish and Wildlife Director Jamie Rappaport Clark are named as defendants.

"Plants are the foundation of the Hawaiian ecosystem," said Steve Montgomery, council board member. "Everything about them is unique and they are a resource that we must preserve. We believe that Hawaiian plants deserve the attention that the law requires and we are pursuing that."

The suit says five of the rare species are found only on Maui, three only on Lanai, one only on Molokai and the other only on Kahoolawe.


Woman guilty of tax fraud

A Honolulu businesswoman has entered guilty pleas in Circuit Court to tax violations, including a charge of diverting more than $20,000 of her employees' withholding taxes.

Nettie U. Kaahaaina was indicted earlier with first-degree theft for failing to pay the withholding to the state Department of Taxation and also with failing to file general excise tax returns for her company, American Welding Inc., for 1995 and 1996.

Sentencing is set for June 7 before Circuit Judge Elwin Ahu.


IRS affirms schools' tax-exempt status

The embattled Bishop Estate got good news for a change this week.

Trustee Richard Wong announced yesterday that the Internal Revenue Service has upheld and reaffirmed the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate's policy of giving preference to Hawaiian children in admissions to the Kamehameha Schools.

The schools have enjoyed federal tax-exempt status since 1939.

The IRS ruled in 1975 that the admissions policy was not racially discriminatory. But in 1997, Big Island rancher Harold Rice and 20 unidentified plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit challenging the estate's tax-exempt status.

The lawsuit said the schools' status contradicted federal policy that says tax exemptions don't apply to establishments that engage in race discrimination.

Wong said the IRS held that there hasn't been any significant changes since 1975 and therefore, concluded "the Estate's admissions restriction for Native Hawaiians remains consistent with current fundamental public policy."

The IRS also said the admissions policy is racially inclusive, Wong said, because applicants of any racial or ethnic background are admitted, as long as they have at least one Hawaiian ancestor.

Students enrolled for the 1997-98 school year, for example, reported the following racial/ethnic backgrounds: 78.3 percent, Caucasian; 73.7 percent, Chinese; 30.9 percent, Filipino; 27.7 percent, Japanese; and 23.4 percent other ancestries, including African-American, Arabian, Brazilian, Indian, Native Alaskan and Native American.

Lions Club selects blind person of year

Arthur Cabanilla, a self-employed massage therapist, has been named the Lions Club of Honolulu's 1999 outstanding blind person of the year.

He will be honored at a luncheon Tuesday at the Richards Street YWCA.



Bullet Allen Coage was the first U.S. judoka to earn an Olympic medal, in the 1976 Montreal games. A story yesterday in Sports listed Hawaii's Kevin Asano as being the first, in 1988.

Bullet ML Macadamia Orchards LP reported earnings for the first quarter of 1999. The lead sentence in a Hawaii Inc. report yesterday listed an incorrect period.

See expanded coverage in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
See our [Search] [Info] section for subscription information.

Police, Fire


By Star-Bulletin staff

Traffic victim found three days after accident

HILO -- A hit-and-run traffic victim who had been lying dead by the side of a road south of Hilo for three days was discovered yesterday by a passing motorist, police said.

The victim was identified as Frank Willi Siebuhr, 50, of Hawaiian Beaches. Police received the call at 8 a.m. yesterday that the motorist found the body near the intersection of Aulii Drive and Keaau-Pahoa Highway 6 miles south of Keaau.

Police said they were able to connect the case with a report made by Robert K. Iokepa, 34, of Keaau, on Monday morning. Iokepa said he had been driving the route early Sunday when he ran off the road and thought he struck a traffic sign.

Police recovered evidence from the scene, including shattered auto parts which matched Iokepa's vehicle.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit determined that the incident was a hit-and-run case. Because time had passed, they were unable to determine whether drugs, alcohol, or speed were factors.

A negligent homicide investigation will be conducted, which will include questioning Iokepa.

Siebuhr's death was the fourth traffic fatality of the year on the Big Island, compared with 11 at the same time last year.

Man allegedly used gun to threaten girlfriend

A 70-year-old Ala Moana man was arrested yesterday for allegedly threatening his 58-year-old girlfriend with a handgun.

The couple were arguing at their home at 1:35 p.m. when the man reportedly pointed the handgun at the woman, police said.

The man aimed the weapon at the woman's face from about 2 feet away and threatened her.

The man was booked for first-degree terroristic threatening.

Police trying to find safe stolen last year in Hilo

HILO -- Police are asking for the public's help in solving a burglary in which a 400-pound safe, a large Japanese Bon dance drum, six smaller Japanese drums, Chinese artifacts, two handguns, and a 1986 beige Toyota pickup truck were stolen.

The guns and Chinese artifacts were inside the safe, which was loaded into the pickup with other items at a Haihai street home and driven away on June 30, police said. The truck and drums were later recovered.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 961-2283 or Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

Police seeking woman who has many aliases

Honolulu police are seeking Diane Kapiko, convicted of forgery and wanted on a probation revocation warrant.

Kapiko also is wanted for questioning in several forgery and theft cases involving stolen checks. She is known to frequent Kaimuki and Kapahulu as well as Papakolea, and is known by many aliases, birth dates and Social Security numbers.

She is known as Leilani Lum, Joanne Nohara, Louise H. Garcia, Diane Leilani Lum, Diane Lee and Leeane Kaleiiki Lum.

She is reported to be age 42, with a birth date of 6/21/56, although she also uses 6/19/54, 7/26/56 and 11/30/58.

She is described as 5 feet 9, 175 pounds, medium build, with short brown hair, brown eyes, tan complexion and moles on left side of her face.

Call 955-8300 or *Crime on cellular telephones.

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