Seven Hawaii State Hospital employees have been placed on leave without pay after a patient escaped from the mental hospital in Kaneohe Sunday, Nov. 12, and flew to California.
The Hawaii State Department of Health, which runs the hospital, announced in a statement on Wednesday that the employees will be relieved of their duties for 30 days pending investigation.
“As the investigation progresses, more employees may be identified and placed on off-duty status,” the statement reads.
It took hospital staff 10 hours to notify authorities of Saito’s escape, according to the Star-Advertiser.
The patient, Randall Saito, was arrested in San Joaquin County, California, on Wednesday.
Three days before, Saito, 59, walked off hospital grounds, took a taxi to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and, using a fake ID, caught a flight to Maui before flying to California. He was arrested after a taxi driver, who reportedly recognized him from photos she had seen on the news, alerted police.
A medical staffer from Hawaii State Hospital told HawaiiNewsNow Saito was a master manipulator who knew how to get what he wanted from people.
State Attorney General Douglas Chin described Saito as “dangerous,” and issued a $500,000 bench warrant on Nov. 14 for his arrest, charging him with felony escape.
Chin said Saito is facing an extradition hearing in San Joaquin County.
The Attorney General’s office said it plans to make the case that Saito is not suffering from a mental defect, reported the Star-Advertiser.
“This was premeditated,” Chin said. “It was intentional. It was planned. This was something that wasn’t done by somebody suffering from a mental defect.”
In response to the escape, the state health department increased security measures at the hospital by ceasing all unescorted on-campus and off-campus privileges, suspending visits to the hospital’s clubhouse, and reviewing patient privileges and visitation policies. Security staff have also been reassigned and extra security fencing is set to be installed.
Saito was committed to the mental hospital in 1981 after he was acquitted by reason of insanity for the death of 29-year-old Sandra Yamashiro in 1979. Yamashiro was shot in the face with a pellet gun and repeatedly stabbed to death by Saito after she parked next to him at a shopping mall in Honolulu, HawaiiNewsNow reported.
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