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Oliver Johnson dies from flesh eating bacteria

The truth be known...not covered in lies!!!!! can you deny his death! Readers beware of Bloggers covering the truth of sewage entering our ocean. Fight for your Ocean!!!!!


April 6 2006

UH scientists note that the raw sewage that flowed out of the canal, and into the boat harbor and the ocean, would have provided nutrients for the deadly bacteria to suddenly flourish.


Two bacteria — Vibrio vulnificus and aeromonas identified in Johnson's wounds, according to the Health Department — are potentially deadly, and both can cause a flesh-eating effect.

"That would be an organism that can kill very quickly," said Roger Fujioka, a UH microbiologist familiar with the vibrio bacteria that grow in seawater. "It gets into the bloodstream."

It's the same bacteria that killed a man on the Big Island in 2001, after he swam in brackish hot springs.

Fujioka said the bacteria are in the water all the time, but in very low concentrations.

There aren't enough bacteria to create infections, he said, "until something unusual happens like the sewage spill."

Dr. Alan Tice, an infectious disease specialist with UH and Queen's, said several conditions combined in Johnson's case to increase the danger: the bacteria bloom because of the sewage spill; wounds Johnson suffered beforehand, giving bacteria easy access; and the fact he had been drinking, which could have reduced his liver's ability to filter them out.

But Fujioka said that safety need not be an issue for most people concerned about going into the water.

Fujioka said he doesn't see a danger for coastal waters but believes signs should be posted at the harbor and the canal.

"Now that we know it's there, signs at this point would be appropriate," he said.

While most of the pollution warning signs along Waikiki beaches have been removed, some remain along the Ala Wai Canal, at the harbor and at Magic Island Lagoon.

Tice agreed with Fujioka about the role the sewage could have played.

"The Ala Wai likely had these organisms, but when you put sewage in, it's a nutrient for the organisms and they grow more and become more concentrated," Tice said. "These organisms don't cause disease or infections unless there's some unusual exposure."

But once that occurs, these bacteria "can cause a tremendous amount of disease very rapidly," Tice said.

"The toxins will rupture the cells and shut down blood vessels and stop the circulation," he said. "Bacteria grow in dead tissue like wildfire."

Early yesterday, doctors told Johnson's friends and family that amputation of his right leg and arms may not be necessary after blood flow had improved, said retail consultant Stephany Sofos, a close friend of Johnson's.

But Zobel Dela Cruz, another friend who spent several hours yesterday at Queen's, said doctors reported in the afternoon that it may still be necessary to amputate the right leg.

"Every day, his condition changes. That's the problem," Dela Cruz said.


City officials said they could not comment on this case.

"We remain concerned for the health of the public, and again urge people to heed the signs the city posted warning them to stay out of waters that may be contaminated," said Bill Brennan, city spokesman.

The events leading to Johnson's infection are sketchy, but Honolulu police spokeswoman Michelle Yu said yesterday that officers responded to a "medical assist" call at Johnson's Tradewinds apartment on Ala Moana at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Johnson told police he had been assaulted the night before and thrown into the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. Police have opened an investigation, Yu said.

Dela Cruz, 35, said Johnson told her an altercation occurred, but she was unwilling to share details so as not to compromise possible criminal investigations.

Friends pieced together these events leading to Johnson's hospitalization, based on bits and pieces he had related to them:

On Thursday night, Johnson went to a bar near the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. That night he was drinking with people he had just met and was later assaulted. He was thrown into the waters in the harbor and then climbed out.

Johnson returned to his apartment, where Dela Cruz said he took a shower and went to bed.

When Dela Cruz saw him on Friday, "He had scratches all over him," she said. "His feet — you could pretty much tell he was stepping on coral or something."


According to the police report, Johnson called for emergency help on Friday night and was to be taken to Straub Hospital. Dela Cruz said he was instead transferred to Queen's because of his injuries.

She took him home from the Queen's emergency room around 10:30 p.m. Friday.

"He left the hospital without any antibiotics or painkillers," Dela Cruz said. She said she suspected that Johnson did not inform emergency room personnel that he had fallen into the harbor.

"Maybe if they would have known, they would have treated him differently," she said.

The next day, Johnson told friends he was still feeling sick.

Dieter Giblan, 34, one of Johnson's close friends, was supposed to go out with him on Saturday night. But when Giblan called to confirm their plans, Johnson told him he had injured his leg.

"I told him to give me a call if he needed anything," Giblan said. "So he did and I went down there and gave him some Motrin."

Giblan said Johnson had scratches and cuts on his legs and feet and complained about excruciating pain.

Johnson even suggested that he might lose his leg, Dela Cruz said.

"By Sunday his legs had ballooned, he was in excruciating pain," Sofos said.

He was rushed to the Queen's emergency room by ambulance. There, his kidneys shut down, his liver failed and he had full-blown pneumonia, doctors told his friends.

Friends later were told that Johnson's body was being attacked by a flesh-eating bacteria.


Doctors told friends that he was experiencing septic shock — an overwhelming infection that shuts down organs — and also had three different bacteria in his body.

While laboratory reports did not show the presence of type A strep that is usually associated with flesh-eating, Johnson's friends insisted yesterday they were told differently by doctors.

Friends said Johnson is an outgoing, athletic guy who is always the life of the party.

"Oliver is what you call a connector," Giblan said. "He is just a dynamic person who brings different people together."

Johnson kept friends in many different circles including colleagues. Dela Cruz, also a mortgage broker, met Johnson 2 1/2 years ago when he first moved to Hawai'i and was working as a loan officer.

"We used to surf Bowls and Kaiser together," Dela Cruz said. "We were pretty close."

Sofos said Johnson taught her to surf and that he loved the ocean.

"This is really hard, really tough on all of us. It's been such a roller coaster ride. All we can do is hang in there and support each other," Sofos said.

Johnson is originally from North Carolina but grew up in Florida, said Dela Cruz. He moved to Hawai'i after visiting a few years before.

"He fell in love with Hawai'i and he wanted to fall in love with an island girl," she said.

Giblan said this incident has brought all of Johnson's friends together, many of whom never knew each other.

"There are few people who can have no family in Hawai'i but still have 20 people sitting in a waiting room hoping for the best," Giblan said.

Johnson's mother arrived from Florida on Monday.

"She's a strong woman. She's hanging in there," Dela Cruz said.

His father is expected to arrive today, she said.

Johnson's mother declined to talk to media yesterday.


April 11, 2006

Johnson died Thursday night, a week after he apparently got into a fight and ended up in the sewage-tainted Ala Wai Boat Harbor. Within two days he had three different bacterial infections that left him hospitalized with complete organ failure and on life support.

The medical examiner said Johnson died of multisystem organ failure due to septic shock brought on by a Vibrio vulnificus bacterial infection. He also suffered from chronic alcoholic liver disease, which contributed to the flesh-eating infection's ability to take hold, said the medical examiner's office. No new autopsy findings were released yesterday.

Police continued to investigate whether Johnson fell or was pushed into the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. Detective Roland Takasato said investigators are working on some leads. Last week police talked to a man who said he was in a fight with Johnson on the night he ended up in the harbor.

Speaking at yesterday's news conference, Johnson's mother said she just wants to find out what happened to her son and she felt that might be "difficult to do without a lawyer."

"I want to know the truth," said Friederike Boszko, 61, of Boca Raton, Fla., "Maybe I want answers too fast."

Boszko said she is grateful for the media attention her son's case has received.

"I think because of Oliver, people are aware what is out there in this sewage-tainted water," Boszko said.


Who do you belive the media or the scienctific proof, the other victim posted did not contract in Utah!! Hawaii tourism hides the truth, and so will authorities here at home! still, wash your hands.


I think it's funny you keep reposting this stuff so no one reads any of the responses to this mindless sensationalism. No one is buying this nonsense.

Clay - can I start reposting my topic whenever anyone makes a comment that disagrees with me?

This is from this posters previous post of the same material...

Didn't we already have a talk about this nonsense. The presence of the TSS-1 virulence factor in bacteria does not amount to "flesh eating bacteria" and to state it in such a way is nothing less than pure sensationalism.

There are a dozen types of bacteria on your skin right now capable of causing toxic shock syndrome. Yet, here you are. You might remember TSS as the illness which killed several women back a few years ago when they went several days without changing their tampons. Poor personal hygiene is the true causitive factor behind TSS.

Again, perhaps if you are so interested in microflora and fauna, an introductory microbiology class is in order. You could follow that up with medical micro and microbial physiology and all of this would become a lot less scary.

We should all be thanking bacteria, not worrying about it. Even staph aureus.

Remember to wash your hands often and correctly and you will be just fine.


Seriously. You have flesh eating staph. bacteria living on every square millimeter of your skin right now.

I was at "surfers beach" a few days ago, and the stench of "poo" was in the air so strong, it was enough for me to be concerned and leave the beach without entering the water, maybey this is something to be concerned with?

A not so careful read and a glimpse of the photos shows these are seperate cases, not at all repetative sensationalism. The pesticides, the fertiizers, the overflow of sewage,overpopulation of gulls and thier polution, the stagnate river (due to diverting water to dry up our coastal region to then be developed) that collects all these polutants are, and is the environmental situation we have at hand........ADD RAIN AND KABOOM!! its all at our beach, which I assume Mark and his cohorts have never entered in thier lives, unless he is Mark Massara, my hero! Oh my God! stop changing the subject.

Oh no! If it rains we could all be doomed! Doomed! It could happen any minute now! A day from now! Two days before the day after tomorrow!

Oh wait. It never rains in half moon bay! We're all safe.

Jon in Montara:

That smell of "poo" at Surfer's Beach... not actual feces but the rotting carcass of a seal that's been there for a few weeks now... bones sticking out and everything.

Ew, gross! Don't my tax contributions cover removal of a dead and rotting animal that's smack dab in a tourist/local beach hangout???

Anon, no they do not. That would encourage other people to move to the coastside.

are you guys really dumb asses or what? whats wrong with cleaning this place up? When the highway collapses at surfers beach and you cannot swim in the ocean because people like you are ignorant, then..... well for now ill just keep posting new topics....Mark Massara... were are you..surfers unite!

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