As Death Toll At Hilo Veteran’s Home Mounts, Family Calls For Criminal Investigation

As the COVID-19 death toll at Hilo’s Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home continues to mount, one family of a resident at the facility is demanding a criminal investigation.

Mary Benevides says prior to contracting COVID-19, her dad was always smiling, joking and doting on his grandchildren.

“He was happy,” she said. “He was funny. You know just always happy to hear from his family.”

But now she says all of that’s changed.

“He’s not my dad. Like how my dad was,” said Benevides. “Every phone call. Every text message makes your heart stop. You never know if it’s going to be that call.”

It’s been that way since early September when Walter Santos was diagnosed with COVID-19. The virus exacerbated his once manageable ailments, sending the 75-year-old downhill fast.