SANDY, Utah — A man who allegedly attacked his teenage sister and his father with a machete in Sandy has been formally charged with attempted murder, and the teen girl may have survived the attack by “playing dead”.
Sione Fono Vaitai, 26 of Sandy, has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, one count of obstructing justice, three counts of domestic violence in the presence of a child, and for one count related to fleeing from police.
The charges stem from an incident on May 12 in Sandy. Charging documents citing statements from family members say Vaitai entered his sisters’ room holding a machete and told the girls, ages 13 and 14, to be quiet or they would die.
The girls’ mother opened the door and began arguing with Vaitai, who then put the machete against his 14-year-old sister’s neck and applied pressure. The girl tried to block the blade with her hands.
Another sister who was in the home took her 2-year-old son and fled to a neighbor’s house, and as she left she said she saw her father get up from his wheelchair to confront Vaitai.
The 14-year-old girl told police her father came into the bedroom and told Vaitai to hit him first, at which point Vaitai attacked his father with the machete. The man tried to block the blows with his arms and attempted to disarm his son, but after he fell to the ground his son continued to strike him with the machete.
Vaitai then turned back to the 14-year-old girl and began striking her with the machete, and she tried to block the blows until she, “found she could no longer use her right arm. [Victim] then blocked the blows with her left arm and hand, until she could no longer use her left arm.”
When she could no longer protect herself, the teen girl decided to “play dead.” She told police her brother poked her with the machete several times “as if he was trying to make sure she was dead,” the documents state.
Vaitai fled the scene, and police later recovered the machete and the man’s cellphone, both of which were abandoned. Police released photos of the man after the attack, and witnesses spotted him in St. George on May 15.
Officers apprehended Vaitai after a chase, and they had to disable his vehicle after he ignored several red lights and stop signs while fleeing.
The teen girl suffered multiple lacerations to her head, a skull fracture, a mild traumatic brain injury and multiple other lacerations on her arms and hands. Her right wrist was partially amputated.
Vaitai’s father suffered a laceration to his head, a skull fracture, a nasal fracture, and extensive lacerations to both of his arms. He had open fractures on his left forearm and one finger on his hand was amputated while another was partially amputated.
Loved ones have created a GoFundMe page to assist the family with medical expenses.