By Victoria Talbot
Posted March 4, 2020
MacRoy “Macky” Nagato, who sustained a traumatic brain injury Oct. 6, 2016, when a railing gave way at Ala Moana Center, spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since the accident to express his appreciation for the public support and encouragement.
Nagato and his friend, Nicholas “Koa” Freitas, had celebrated Nagato’s 21st birthday and had paused at the railing on their way to the parking area when the railing failed. Freitas fell three stories to his death and Nagato suffered life-threatening brain trauma.
Nagato and Freitas were “extra close,” explained Nagato’s attorney, Rick Fried. The two played football at Roosevelt High School and graduated together in 2013.
Nagato has no memory of the events, but his wife, Tiara, was there. “I did see it. It happened so fast. We were running towards them; it’s all a blur. I don’t really like to talk about it,” she said.
Nagato spent six months at Craig Hospital in Denver, where he received specialized treatment for his injuries. His care is ongoing.
Seated in a wheelchair in Fried’s law office, Nagato spoke slowly and deliberately. “I want to thank everybody for helping me get here,” he said.
Nagato is partially paralyzed on his left side. He has lost the vision in his left eye and the hearing in his right ear, suffers from speech aphasia and ongoing cognitive problems because of his brain injury.
“He is limited a lot,” said Tiara, who has been his primary caregiver since he returned to Hawaii. “I’m just thankful he’s still here.”
Nagato undergoes therapy on a daily basis. He hopes that one day, he will walk with just the assistance of a cane. He will require specialized care, mobility assistance and medications for the rest of his life.
“Sometimes, I get pretty mad. I think about how different life would be if this never happened,” he said.
The families of Freitas and Nagato filed a lawsuit against the company that owns Ala Moana Center in May 2018.
The lawsuit said that Ala Moana’s Chicago-based owner, GGP Inc., was warned by a contractor and architect four times in 2005 about the unsafe condition of the railing that failed.
Fried said that though the case had been settled a while ago, “it took one year to put all the financial pieces together. Everything is finalized,” he said, and the court has approved the structure of the settlement.
With the case settled, the Nagatos and their 5-year-old daughter will be able to comfortably afford a home, a specialized van, health care assistance, medical equipment and ongoing therapy for the rest of Nagato’s life, Fried said.
They have come a long way.
“There have definitely been ups and downs with everything. We always push through, a day at a time,” Tiara said.