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Wednesday, October 11, 2000

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Flowers, leis and candles have been placed at the site of a fatal
accident at the corner of Pali Highway and School Street.

Teen killed in
Pali crash ‘totally
cared’ for others

Flowers for Dana Ambrose fill
the intersection; the cop involved
in the crash had been convicted
in a previous drunken spree

She lives by her motto.
By not giving up, she
Works hard to achieve,
Dana is a hero to me.

-- Kaja Engle

By Jaymes K. Song and Debra Barayuga

Dana Ambrose -- the 19-year-old woman killed in a two-car crash involving an off-duty police officer -- "was everything I would love to see my daughter grow up to be," says former neighbor Jason Engle.

Engle of San Clemente, Calif., who took Ambrose's parents to the airport for their flight to Hawaii yesterday, said of Ambrose: "She always brought a smile to people's faces. She always put herself second. She just totally cared for other people."

Mug Engle's daughter, Kaja, then 9, liked her baby sitter so much she wrote a poem about Ambrose and a tribute: "My hero Dana always lives to her motto: 'Always do your best in everything you do.' She tries her hardest in everything she does. Dana hopes to go to college either in Hawaii or one located by the mountains. She will continue lifeguarding and snowboarding."

This morning the accident scene at Pali Highway and School Street had turned into a floral memorial to Ambrose. People left flowers, leis and candles at the intersection where Ambrose died Saturday. She lived in Haleiwa and attended Leeward Community College.

Police officer Clyde Arakawa, 48, a remains on paid vacation while the investigation continues into the crash. He was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence and negligent homicide. He was released and has not been charged.

At a news conference yesterday, police insisted the case will be handled like any other traffic fatality but declined comment on the details of the investigation because it is ongoing.

"We're in no way stonewalling, blockading or giving favorable treatment," said Maj. Jeffrey Owens, head of the Traffic Division. "The fact that he's a police officer makes no difference."

Arakawa has been with the department for 25 years and is a few weeks away from retirement.

Eight years ago, Arakawa was convicted of breaking into an Enchanted Lake home.

Loretta Ferrara said the police officer had passed out in her home and reeked of alcohol. When Arakawa awoke, she said, he threatened her son with a gun.

When she heard the news over the weekend that the same officer had been involved in a traffic fatality, she said her heart leaped into her throat.

"I swear I just shook. I thought, 'My God, they let it go this long, and now he's got to take someone's life before they realize this man had a drinking problem.'"

Her son discovered the intruder on their living room floor on Nov. 5, 1992, and called 911.

While they waited for police, Arakawa awoke and began swearing at her son because he kept telling the man not to move and to keep his hands up, Ferrara said. Her son also struck Arakawa in the leg with a 2-by-4 when he tried to stick his hand into what appeared to be a bulging pocket, Ferrara said.

They didn't know he was a police officer until fellow officers came to their home and surprised her by calling him by name. "I was, 'Get him out of here,'" Ferrara said.

As he was led away, Arakawa pulled a pistol from his pocket and threatened her son, saying, "I blow you away, you think you so bad, big boy," she said.

"That's when I lost it," Ferrara said. "I was yelling at them, 'Get him out of here.'"

Officers took the gun away. But what she said boggled her even more was that they allowed him to get into his car, which was parked across the street, and leave when he obviously was drunk.

"My house reeked of alcohol," Ferrara said. "He was definitely drunk."

Arakawa was acquitted of the terroristic threatening charges and convicted for trespassing. He was sentenced to one year's probation and $100 restitution.

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