Abuse of girl
sickens rescuer

A paramedic recounts
the Puna youngster's
horrific flesh wounds

PAHOA, Hawaii » The smell from the wounds of a 10-year-old Big Island girl removed from the home of her caretakers on Feb. 7 was so strong that Hawaii County paramedic Kendall Ueda vomited.

The girl, identified only as Alexis by neighbors in the Ainaloa subdivision in Puna, remains in extremely critical condition in Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu, according to police.

Police are investigating the case as endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree, but no arrests have been made. They said the girl was abused, but they gave no statement regarding how she sustained the wounds.

While police and state officials were tightlipped about the case, Ueda and neighbors described a horrific scene.

Neighbor Porsche Miller said the girl was abused by children and adults in the family she was staying with.

"They're horrible to that little girl. They would hit her all the time. She was like a little punching bag," Miller said.

The girl had been left with the caretakers by the girl's mother about three months ago, police said. The name of the mother has not been released, but police said they have talked with her. They described the caretaker family as acquaintances of the mother.

Responding to a call from the caretakers on Feb. 7, county paramedics arrived at the southern Hilo home on Woodrose Drive. The caretakers led paramedics to the girl on a patio, Ueda said.

Despite the open air, the smell of decaying flesh from the girl's injuries was strong enough to make him vomit, he said. "I have a weak stomach."

Ueda said the girl had a cut several inches long on her head with tiny objects in it that appeared to be fly eggs.

Her worst injury was about three-quarters of an inch of flesh missing from her upper lip, he said, adding that the edges were black and decaying.

She also had puncture wounds in her cheeks, both eyes were swollen shut and she had additional injuries on her hands and feet, Ueda said. She was conscious but moaning, he said.

A neighbor, who gave her name only as Kealalaina, said no one from the caretaker family followed the ambulance to Hilo Hospital. Ueda said family members usually follow the ambulance.

Police arrived several hours later, apparently after the hospital notified them of apparent child abuse.

Returning repeatedly for the next several days, police confiscated items filling many bags and also carried away a plastic dog house, according to neighbors.

Property tax records identify the owners of the home as Darilynn Rodillas and Hyacinth Poouahi. Miller identified Poouahi, whom she knows as "Hya," and her boyfriend as Alexis' caretaker. Poouahi is Rodillas' daughter, Miller said.

Since Feb. 7 five other children have been removed from the home and placed in foster custody, a state Department of Human Services spokesman said yesterday. Neighbors said they include four children and a grandchild of Poouahi.

Miller blamed Alexis' mother for leaving her with the caretaker family. "Alexis has been handed around from people to people because the mom wanted to go out with her boyfriend," she said.

Some of the things Miller knows about the case come from the caretaker's children talking with her daughter, she said, while other things she saw herself.

Miller said she saw the couple's daughter, a bit younger than Alexis, hit Alexis because she did not know how to untangle a dog caught on its rope.

Miller said her own daughter had told her that Alexis was physically abused by the other children in the house, including an older boy who would slam Alexis against a wall and kick her.

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