An Epidemic in the Islands – Drunk and Drugged Driving
A spring 2019 report from Theresa Paulette, MADD Hawaii’s Victim Services Specialist
The Werners, taking action after the April 24, 2016 crash involving an alleged impaired driver who fled the scene of the crash, presented a petition with 12,000 signatures to Hawaii legislators. The petition requested that the Court be allowed to extend a sentence up to 10 years in felony negligent homicide or negligent injury caseswhen “the defendant did not remain at the scene of the crime and render reasonable assistance to the injured person….” Known as the Kaulana Bill, it became law and goes into effect July 1, 2019.
The Werners have been frustrated by a criminal justice system that has granted numerous continuances to the defense. Their case is currently scheduled for trial in April, a few weeks short of 3 years after the deadly crash. Victims on the neighbor islands, are also angry and frustrated as they wait for alleged offenders to be held accountable. They wait…and wait…and hope for justice.
During their years of waiting, the Werners have become strong advocates for traffic safety in Waianae and have reached out to the families of the newer victims of alleged impaired driving: T.J. Kaho’oiliha, Jr., Daniel Mole, and Jonah Ragsdale. The heartbroken families came together in their grief and have organized sign-wavings and participated in HPD Sobriety Checkpoints with families and friends in an effort to bring awareness to a community that has been horribly impacted by the epidemic of impaired driving.
Red Zone Waianae, April 24, 2018, held on the second anniversary of Kaulana’s death, resulted from four young adult Waianae men losing their lives in alleged impaired driving crashes within a 2 year span; four young men from the leeward coast who knew each other from school, sports, and church, all killed in the prime of their lives. The Red Zone was a challenge to the Waianae Community to strive for Zero Deaths from Impaired Driving.
Live & Let Live, a Waianae community safety campaign, was revived during the holidays by Patty Kahanamoku Teruya, President, Waianae Coast Community Foundation, with several sign-wavings next to the crashed cars on display on Farrington Highway. MADD, DOT, HPD, leeward businesses and the community supported the campaign.
Kaka’ako, January 28, 2019, unfortunately brought Impaired driving to the forefront again with a violent crash that killed 3 pedestrians and seriously injured five. The heartbreak and anger rippled out into the community as people’s sense of safety was shaken. Pedestrians standing on a safety island (?) at sunset were suddenly struck and killed by an alleged speeding and impaired driver. Dr. Travis Lau, from Honolulu, and Casimir Pokorny and Reino Ikeda, both tourists, were violently killed.
VASH (Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii) reached out immediately to support the families of the tourists and quickly organized a community-healing event, “Hawaii – We Care,” at the Hawaii Convention Center with about 100 in attendance. MADD offered victim services, grief support, and the 24/7 help line at
MADD has worked for 35 years along with our highway safety partners, and has helped reduce alcohol-related traffic fatalities by half. Half isn’t good enough. We will continue to strive for the day when there are “no more victims.”