“I just didn’t want to die on Valentine’s Day. I don’t think my kids would’ve been happy about it.”
That’s when Tyler Hamm was taken for a wild, potentially deadly ride in the bed his own pickup truck after stopping to help a woman who’d been struck and critically injured by a man allegedly driving her stolen car.
The would-be good Samaritan, a 34-year-old father of two small children, didn’t even realize he’d broken his right hip after jumping out of the bed of his Nissan Titan because he “was so amped up on adrenaline.”
Hamm, who lives in Hawaiian Paradise Park, had taken his 3-year-old son, Tyler, and 1-year-old daughter, Ruby, home to their mother in Kehena Estates in Kalapana in the late afternoon of Feb. 14.
Shortly thereafter, he witnessed 28-year-old Maile “Lei” Kalanui being struck by her own car — which had reportedly been forcibly stolen from her a short time earlier from outside her husband’s grandparents’ home.
“I’m basically in shock watching this … because it’s just a quiet little neighborhood where I’ve lived on-and-off for a long time …,” Hamm said Thursday. “This car, coming down the road at probably about 50 miles an hour, just smashes into her. She flew over the car and did a few cartwheels and just landed in the middle of the road. It seemed like she was unconscious. She wasn’t moving or anything, bleeding out of several places on her body.”
Hamm stopped and got out of his truck at the corner of Ole Ole Street and Highway 137 to do what he could for the woman.
“Physically, there isn’t anything I can do for her because I’m not a medic or anything,” he said. “There was a woman at the scene who was wailing all over her. I come to find out later that’s her mother-in-law. I’m looking at the two neighbors on the corner there, their houses — and I’m screaming for them to call 911. There’s no (cellphone) service out there. I yelled that, probably two or three times, very quickly. And I look around, and the guy that hit her, I guess, in her stolen car, is getting into my truck.
“At that point, he’d already gotten the doors locked before I could yank him back out. … He hit the woman, and he’s stealing the truck that’s my livelihood … and my son’s new dogs are in the back of the truck, too. So I jump into the bed. I’m hoping I can get control or him and the vehicle, somehow. … I’m yelling at him to stop and get out of my truck. I know he can hear me, but he’s not even looking at me or paying any attention to me, at all.”
Hamm, a self-employed landscaper, stood, shirtless, in the bed of the vehicle hanging on for dear life and screaming for help.
Meanwhile, the alleged carjacker — identified by police as 36-year-old Thomas Ryan Kilborn of Portland, Ore. — was driving fast through the small Kalapana neighborhoods along Highway 137, Hamm said, hitting dead ends and turning around because of his unfamiliarity with the area.
“I’m starting to get attention … so there’s a few guys who have gotten together in their trucks, and they’re trying to block the guy and box them in,” he said. “But, unfortunately, my truck is so powerful he was just able to kind of bash them out of the way and get around them. At this point, he’s probably hitting speeds of about 80 miles an hour and catching air … so I figure he’s going to kill me.
“Coming up onto the transfer station, that’s where two police officers have the road blocked. At that point, he’s trying to slow down a little bit … and that’s when I’m able to jump out onto the grass.”
Hamm said thoughts and emotions rushed through him as he clung to the truck.
“A lot of my thoughts was I really wanted to kick this guy’s a—,” he recalled. “But then I really started thinking there’s a good chance this guy’s going to kill me. And I started thinking about my kids and how it was Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t let my kids lose their father on Valentine’s Day.
“When I finally jumped out of the truck, that’s when I saw the police, so that’s when I started thinking maybe this isn’t all for nothing.”
One of the civilian pursuers saw Hamm and stopped to pick him up.
At the first cul-de-sac they came to after the Kalapana transfer station, they spotted a wrecked car.
“We’re yelling, ‘Is the guy in the truck here?’ And they’re yelling, ‘Yeah, that a—hole’s here.’ So we go up and find where he’s crashed my truck, which is about 60 yards into a lava field,” Hamm said.
Police arrested Kilborn after a short foot pursuit. He remains incarcerated and is facing a multitude of charges, including attempted second-degree murder,
Almost three weeks after the harrowing ride, Hamm said he is looking forward to getting his broken hip treated. He initially was diagnosed at the Hilo Medical Center ER.
“I haven’t been to a specialist yet; my hip is really hurting. I hope it’s healing properly. I have an appointment on Monday to see an orthopedist, so I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “I got some other injuries. My chin was really sore for about a week from smacking the toolbox in the back of my truck as I’m trying to hang on.”
The truck was disabled in the lava field and is likely totaled, but Hamm hasn’t been able to file an insurance claim because police still have the vehicle in an evidence bay.
The four dogs were uninjured, Hamm said.
Kalanui’s husband, Trevor Naki, said in a Thursday Facebook post that Kalanui remains hospitalized in Honolulu, but is conscious, talking and looking forward to rehabilitation.
Hamm, like Kalanui, has a GoFundMe online fundraiser. As of Thursday mid-afternoon, his page, titled “Help Tyler move forward from this tragedy,” had collected $2,440 of a $25,000 goal.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.