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Machete attack on family resulted in severed fingers, multiple cuts, charges state

Sione Vaitai
Sione Vaitai
Sandy Police Department

SANDY — A reported stabbing in Sandy last month was actually a machete attack that resulted in amputated body parts, and a teen girl was forced to "play dead" to survive, according to court documents.

Recently released charging documents and a search warrant unveil new details in the attack.

Sione Fono Vaitai, 26, of Sandy, was charged last week in 3rd District Court with two counts of attempted murder, a first-degree felony; obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony; three counts of domestic violence in front of a child, a third-degree felony; and failure to stop at an officer's command, a third-degree felony.

On May 12, Vaitai attacked his father and 14-year-old sister at their home near 10200 S. Mount View Drive, according to charging documents.

The teen and her 13-year-old sister were in their room when Vaitai entered holding a machete, according to charging documents. Vaitai held the knife to the 14-year-old girl's throat and asked her if she believed in God, charges state.

The girls' mother came into the room and started arguing with Vaitai. His father then entered the room and tried to get Vaitai away from the girl by telling him to punch him, according to charging documents.

Vaitai then began hitting his father with the machete, charges state.

"(Vaitai's father) used his arms to block the blows and attempted to grab the machete from Vaitai. Vaitai pushed (his father) to the ground and continued striking him with the machete," according to the charges.

The father suffered a skull fracture and had one finger severed and a second partially cut off, charges state. He also had "extensive lacerations" to both arms, including "open fractures," according to the charges.

Vaitai then resumed attacking his sister, who also tried to use her arms to protect herself from the machete. He struck her right arm "several times, and she found she could no longer use her right arm," charges state. She then "blocked the blows with her left arm and hand until she could no longer use her left arm."

After being struck in the head, the sister began "playing dead," but Vaitai "poked her in the chest with the machete, as if he was trying to make sure she was dead," according to charging documents.

The sister "suffered multiple lacerations to her head, a skull fracture, mild traumatic brain injury … (and) partial amputation of her right wrist," as well as many other cuts to her arms, hands and ears, charges state.

According to a search warrant affidavit unsealed Friday in 3rd District Court, "initial statements from the witnesses claim that the suspect, Sione Vaitai, was acting as if he was under the influence of some kind of narcotics."

The attack may have been sparked by the father's refusal to give Vaitai the keys to his vehicle, the warrant states.

Vaitai was arrested May 15 after witnesses spotted him in St. George. He led the Utah Highway Patrol and St. George Police Department on a car chase that ended when officers performed a PIT maneuver on his vehicle.

At least two police vehicles suffered minor damage during the pursuit, and one road sign was knocked down during one of the PIT maneuvers. No injuries were reported.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office has requested that Vaitai be held in the Salt Lake County Jail on $1 million bail.