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10 Amazing Island Stories

Next time you’re out in public, take a look around. The person next to you may have saved a life. Or won a million dollars. You wouldn’t know just by looking at them, you’d have to ask. So we did. Here are some Islanders who have experienced the unusual, done the extraordinary, from the sublime achievement of reclaiming a once nearly extinct language to the wacky experience of winning a musubi eating contest.


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J.D. Castile

Photo by: Ryan Sphers

holds the record for eating 12 corned-beef musubis in five minutes.

The L&L Hawaiian Barbecue contest was held in March at Kahala Mall with a prize of $1,000, two round-trip plane tickets to the West Coast and a year’s supply of Pepsi.

I was approached at Walmart by the people promoting it. I don’t really like corned-beef musubi. I’ve never been in an eating contest. I just thought it would be cool to win.

I live on a sailboat so I’m kind of all around. I had been over on Molokai and was completely broke. I remembered that the contest was the next day so I gathered up enough money to fly back to Honolulu. I had a couple of things to take care of, but the contest was the main reason I was there, so I was determined to win.

I showed up and looked around. I was against all these guys who were huge and I’m pretty small, so I had no hope of winning. I didn’t have a strategy. I had no idea what I was doing. I just dunked them in water to help swallow them quicker and after about four or so I was kind of gagging and about to throw up. I had a bunch of friends there and I could hear them screaming my name over the hundreds of people. So I looked up and I finished the whole tray real quick after that. When the buzzer went off I had eaten more than everyone else. I won and had enough money to fly back to my boat and continue on.


Sgt. David Yamamoto

saved a woman from suicide.

In September, the police officer grabbed a 47-year-old woman as she leapt off a Waikiki parking structure.

Photo: Courtesy of HPD

The call came in—a female who wanted to jump off a roof. When I arrived, there were already three officers talking with her on the fourth floor of a five-story parking structure. She was standing on the outer side of the railing, hanging on and leaning back, saying all kinds of things. She wasn’t with reality.
I started to talk to her, about my son, anything I could think of. I just wanted her to look at me and stop looking around. She was saying that people were following her and were hiding behind cars.

On the street, the paramedics and fire department were blocking traffic.

I had to slowly get closer and closer. I told her I couldn’t hear very well. I was able to get within maybe five feet of her and talk story. I showed her a picture of my son and my family.

After 45 minutes it became freaky. She said, “I’m going to sleep now forever.” She was calling for her sister and she was saying, “God, please forgive me of all my sins.” All of these last rites kinds of things give you the clue that she’s going to do something.

She started counting to three and stopped at two-and-a-half. Then she closed her eyes and let go with her right arm. I closed the gap and that’s when she released her left arm. It took me a second to get to her. I almost missed her because she was already falling. I was able to just grab her by the shirt.

Now I’m on the good side of the railing and she’s on the bad side of the railing, dangling and swinging and the only thing holding her is me. I’m about 150 pounds and five feet, five inches. She was much taller than me and close to 200 pounds.

I know that at least one of my officers grabbed me and was holding on to my vest and belt. I am pretty sure he sat down and was using his body weight to hold me down.

I don’t know how to explain what happened next. I’ve been in the Army Reserves for over 24 years and we do obstacle training and leadership training. I felt the force of her weight and swung her into the third floor of the parking structure and let go.

I looked down and I see her climbing up over the railing to jump again. Now I’m kind of mad. It’s like, “Wait a minute here; we did this once already.”

I jumped over the fourth floor railing and held onto it with my hands. She was on the inside of the railing on the third floor trying to get out. The only thing I had was my feet because I was hanging, so I forcefully pushed her backwards with my feet. She fell back, and I jumped down to the third floor and here she comes to try again. I tackled her and pinned her down. I yelled, “I got her!” and within seconds my officers ran down the stairs from the fourth floor to the third floor.

We tended to her medical needs and she was taken to Queen’s to see a psychiatrist. Hopefully, she’s all right. It just wasn’t her time to die.


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Honolulu Magazine May 2018
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