HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Kona man who spent a month in a coma after being run over by drunk driver is challenging lawmakers to strengthen Hawaii’s DUI laws.
Robert LaMarca can’t remember getting hit. But he does know the crash changed his life forever.
“I didn’t see it coming,” said the 52-year-old, who was hit on Alii Drive.
“There were odd dreams that sort of thing. I don’t know if that was medication-related or that was just me being in a coma. My first memory was almost a month after the accident.”
Court records show Nicholas Martin had just been released from jail after being arrested for DUI when he plowed into the runner less than 24 hours later.
LaMarca underwent multiple surgeries after the crash. Doctors still aren’t sure if the damage to his brain is permanent.
“Within a day I can go from where I can speak to where I am unable to speak. Sometimes I can’t even think a thought," he said. “Frankly, the fact that you and I are having this conversation is a miracle because I wasn’t supposed to survive."
Despite his condition, LaMarca has vowed to be a voice on the issue.
“Advocacy is the most important thing to me," he said.
"What I can see for myself longer term is being somebody who takes a shot, for what it is, at getting the word out there to people: You cannot drink then get behind the wheel of a car.”
He’s also challenging lawmakers to strengthen the state’s current DUI laws following a crash last month in Kakaako in which three pedestrians were killed by a suspected drunk driver.
“I don’t know how far the state will be willing to go. But there has to be some kind of deterrent,” said LaMarca. “The main thing for me, I just don’t want to see this happen to someone else.”
The driver who hit LaMarca is currently serving a five-year sentence in prison. Last week, a judge ruled he is also responsible for LaMarca’s medical bills, totaling more than $800,000.