Marine Corps truck driver involved in deadly crash gets one-year jail term

Edwin Gonzalez III
Edwin Gonzalez III
Lorraine Gonzalez
Lorraine Gonzalez
Eric Wycklendt
Eric Wycklendt

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Family members of a woman killed in a head-on crash in Hauula in 2008 say they want to see more training for those who are assigned to drive large military vehicles on public roadways.

On Monday, the grieving family begged a judge to give jail time to the US Marine responsible for the deadly collision.

The victim's youngest child, Grace Kanakanui, was already in tears before the sentencing began. She says her mother, Vicki Norman, 57, was everything.

"I don't have that anymore, you know, and I just miss her," she said through tears.

Norman, the activities coordinator at the Ponds at Punaluu retirement home, was killed when a seven-ton Marine Corps transport truck crossed the center line of Kamehameha Highway near Puhuli Street and demolished her minivan.

"We didn't get to say goodbye," Edwin Gonzalez III, victim's son, said. "She was just gone. I think about her sitting in the van at impact, what she was thinking."

Eric Wycklendt was charged with third-degree negligent homicide, a misdemeanor, because the crash did not involve alcohol, drugs or speeding.

Prosecutors say it appeared the Marine, who was 19 years old at the time, just had difficulty keeping the large vehicle within his lane. Defense attorney Noah Fiddler told the court that his client had received 40 hours of training to operate that truck.

"I'm sure he feels terrible," Lorraine Gonzalez, victim's daughter, said through tears. "I can't think of that because of our life and how we are suffering forever. Our life is never going to be the same."

Wycklendt, a decorated serviceman with no prior criminal record, apologized.

"I wish to express to you all my deepest remorse, my deepest sympathy and my deepest condolences," he said.

Circuit Judge Michael Wilson denied the defense's request for a deferral and handed down a one-year jail sentence, the maximum punishment for third-degree negligent homicide.

"To have the judge understand us, it made me feel like my mom was getting her answer," Lorraine Gonzalez said.

But Wycklendt wasn't taken into custody right away, as questions regarding the training of military truck drivers remained.

Instead, the judge ordered him to surrender March 23rd. Between now and then, the defense can provide the court the additional information, and may ask the judge to reconsider the one-year jail term.

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