Tourists recount fear during Guam crash-stabbing
HAGATNA, Guam — A 74-year-old woman testifying Monday about a deadly rampage in Guam said the day started with a family beach trip and ended with her son-in-law dead and four other relatives taken to a hospital.
Katsuko Nohara of Japan said her family was walking back to their hotel after a seafood dinner when Chad Ryan DeSoto drove his car up on the sidewalk and barreled toward them.
“(It was) like a jet coaster — it made a very loud noise and all of a sudden the car was in front of me and the light was so bright like a thunderstorm,” Nohara said through a court interpreter. “In that moment, all I could think was my family, they will all die.”
Nohara was one of five Japanese tourists flown back to Guam at the expense of prosecutors and the territory’s main tourism agency to testify at the trial of the 22-year-old DeSoto on Monday. He is accused of killing three people and hurting 11 others by hitting some with his car then getting out and stabbing bystanders during the Feb. 12, 2013, attack.
One of the tourists killed was Hitoshi Yokata, whom Nohara said urged her to take the trip to celebrate a granddaughter’s graduation. Yokata died two days after being hit by the car. The others killed were 81-year-old Kazuko Uehara and 29-year-old Rie Sugiyama, who were stabbed.
Yokata’s wife, Michiko Yokata, said she suffered at least eight broken ribs, has plates on both legs and has undergone multiple surgeries and rehab.
“My husband is gone so I am lonely every day,” she said. “My husband’s mom, because he’s gone, there’s no one taking care of her.”
Daisuke Okawachi, a 27-year-old who was honeymooning with his pregnant wife, said a middle-aged man fell on top of him, face down and wasn’t moving after being hit by a car.
DeSoto is charged with aggravated murder and attempted murder. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness, disease or effect.
Guam tourism officials are sharing the costs of flying in witnesses in part because of the importance of international tourism for the island.
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