Suspect in hit and run crash involving child tearfully apologizes

Jelleenta James
Jelleenta James

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The driver who hit a young girl in a crosswalk in Moiliili over the weekend says she fled the scene because she was scared. Jelleenta James, 25, says she's been tormented by her decision.

The suspect, who was heading to church with her family at the time of the crash, says she can't stop thinking about what she did.

Jelleenta James broke down in tears knowing that she hurt a child and didn't stop to help.

"You know, I'm not that kind of person," she said through tears.

Rickalyn Kanto, 4, suffered a fractured right thigh bone when she was hit by an SUV while walking with her family in a crosswalk on South King Street near Coolidge Street in Moiliili Sunday.

James, who admits she was the driver, has two young daughters of her own.

"You know, that's not what I want to, hit the kids 'cause I feel bad, too, if something happened with my kids," she said.

She says she was on her way to church for Sunday service, and had her children, her cousin and her mother in the car. She says she feels terrible about the crash, but fear kept her from returning to the scene.

"I didn't know. I didn't see the kids," she said. "That's when I just hit the kid and I guess I was really scared of the police or, you know, those family."

Information from witnesses led investigators to the McDonald's on North Nimitz Highway Tuesday night. James works there. She was still in her uniform when police booked her on suspicion of failure to render aid, and took her vehicle into evidence.

"My co-worker told me, oh, the police coming to look around your car," she said.

"There's nothing we can do about what happened. Sometimes it's an accident," John Hanis, victim's uncle, said. "We are thankful that she survived, and if the driver that was arrested is found guilty, we want him/her to take care of the cost of the injuries."

James says she wants to meet Rickalyn and her parents, and apologize.

"I want to go find her when she stay in the hospital," she said. "I want to visit her 'cause I feel really bad about her."

The child was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon.

Police released James pending further investigation, which is normal in felony traffic cases.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.