Survivor of deadly wrong-way car crash pleads 'Don't drink and drive'

Felimon Batacan
Felimon Batacan
Felimon & Caroline Batacan
Felimon & Caroline Batacan
Jones Ilon
Jones Ilon

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Aiea man is dead and three other people were seriously injured in a wrong-way collision on North Nimitz Highway early Sunday morning. Police say the driver who caused the wreck had been drinking.

Criminal history records indicate the man who investigators say was driving in the wrong direction was convicted of DUI back in 1998.

The driver of the vehicle that was hit says he was heading to work when he saw headlights coming straight at him.

With bandages on his body and hospital pants still on, Felimon Batacan, 48, is back home feeling that he's been given a second chance at life.

He and his wife usually take a Honda Civic to work, but for some reason jumped into their Toyota 4-Runner instead Sunday. Batacan believes the larger vehicle kept them alive during a crash on North Nimitz Highway just before 3 AM.

"I was praying on my mind, God help us, help us survive this accident," Batacan said.

Police say a Geo Metro was going the wrong direction in the west-bound lanes of Nimitz, before making a U-turn at Sand Island Access Road and heading into on-coming traffic on the east-bound side.

Batacan, a stock clerk at Costco in Iwilei, and his wife, Caroline, a certified nursing assistant at a care home in Manoa, were on their way to work, when they were hit head-on.

"I seen the orange, the lights," Batacan said. "It's like three seconds right there, boom, then came off, the airbags."

Caroline, 40, was seriously injured.

The driver of the wrong-way vehicle, identified as Jones Ilon, 39, was also seriously hurt. His passenger, a 28-year-old man from Aiea, was killed.

"It makes me feel uncomfortable right now...and my wife still in the hospital," Batacan said.

Investigators say alcohol was a factor in the deadly crash.

"I just pray that God will console the family," Eruo Airam, the suspect's father-in-law, said. "When I heard that, my heart was really broken."

"They should just don't drink and drive," Ofelia Medrano, Batacan's sister, said. "They just innocent. They don't drink. They're ready for go to work and they see the car was coming towards them."

Batacan believes there's a reason he and his wife were spared.

"I think God had a purpose in this," the crash survivor said. "It's a second call."

This is Oahu's 16th traffic fatality for 2012, compared to 11 at this time last year.

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