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Suit names man accused of hitting girl with golf ball

March 8, 2001

By Walter Wright, ADVERTISER STAFF WRITER

A 17-year-old girl struck by a golf ball at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium on Feb. 2 yesterday sued a man she says hit the ball from the rear of nearby Johnson Hall dormitory.

The suit, filed for Amy Taniguchi by her mother, says Daniel Copperud, a temporary resident of the city, hit the ball and caused injuries to the girl's face, teeth and head, as well as shock, emotional distress and scarring.

The suit did not say if Copperud is the 19-year-old University of Hawaii student whom police say confessed in the incident. That student, who has been released pending possible grand jury action, has not been identified by police.

Copperud could not be reached for comment last night.

The suit was filed by attorney David Fairbanks of the Honolulu law firm of Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks. It seeks an undetermined amount of general, special and punitive damages for "conscious and/or reckless disregard for the safety of others."

Taniguchi, an 'Iolani School senior, was hit in the mouth by a golf ball during a state softball tournament game at the stadium.

She was standing on the steps of the first-base dugout at the University of Hawaii campus stadium waiting her turn to bat when she was hit on the left side of her face by a golf ball from right-center field. The ball came from the rear of Johnson Hall dorm at 2555 Dole St., which overlooks the stadium, and traveled between 200 and 220 yards to reach Taniguchi, police said.

The 19-year-old University of Hawaii student from Minnesota surrendered to police the day after the incident and was booked for investigation of second-degree assault. He was later released pending further investigation after giving a statement to police.

Detective Rodney Noguchi said the man confessed that he hit golf balls into the stadium. He faces possible second-degree assault charges.

Taniguchi lost one lower tooth, suffered damage to several upper teeth and had a cut lip, a school official said.

Noguchi, who was working off-duty as a security officer at the state tournament, said police found divots and other evidence near the dorm. He said one of the golf balls that landed on the field was traced back to the student.