HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In heart-wrenching testimony Thursday, the father of a teenager killed by a hit-and-run driver while trying to cross Farrington Highway in front of his Nanakuli home three years ago told jurors that he watched his son take his final breath.
“I was holding him,” Ed Werner said, through tears. “I tried to give him CPR. It was bad. Really bad.”
Werner spoke on the first day of the long-awaited trial in the case for the deadly hit-and-run crash, which devastated a west side community.
Photos and flowers still mark the spot where 19-year-old Kaulana Werner was hit while crossing Farrington Highway near his Nanakuli home back in April of 2016.
Myisha Lee Armitage has been charged with first-degree negligent homicide in Werner’s death. Authorities say Armitage was drunk when she hit Werner and kept driving.
In opening arguments, deputy Prosecutor Duane Kokesch said that Werner was thrown 198 feet after being struck.
“She didn’t provide any assistance. She didn’t provide any help,” he said.
“Because she was impaired, because she had been drinking, because she was driving dangerously fast, she struck Kaulana. Kaulana never had a chance.”
Armitage’s court-appointed defense attorney, however, said that the facts just don’t add up.
“You’re going to get a chance to hear her side and why for the past several years, she’s been re-playing this over and over again," said lawyer Andrew Park.
"She’s not moved on, she’s not callously moved on, she tried to take her own life thinking about this. You’re going to hear reasons why Myisha believes in her heart that she is not guilty of this, she didn’t cause the death, she didn’t flee the scene.”
Werner’s case has gotten a lot of attention over the years due to the persistence of his family, who refused to let his death become just another forgotten statistic.
They often organize sign-waving events along Farrington Highway — warning folks to slow down and be more aware of pedestrians — while also advocating for harsher penalties for intoxicated drivers.
Their efforts led to “Kaulana’s Bill,” which went into effect last July and authorizes the courts to extend prison terms for offenders convicted of first-degree negligent homicide, when the offender fails to render aid to the injured at the scene of an accident.
According to family, Werner — a former Kamehameha Schools football player who returned home after one semester away at college to care for his mother — had been playing basketball at a nearby park and was walking home when he was hit.
His father was home when he heard what he describes as the loudest boom he had ever heard. He ran out to the street to find his son.
“Watching your kid take his last breath in your arms is devastating," Werner told Hawaii News Now earlier this week. "I wouldn’t put this upon anyone out there.”
Armitage, who was 22 years old at the time of the crash, reportedly had a .13 blood alcohol concentration when she was arrested by Honolulu police who caught her about half a mile from the crash site.
Armitage faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted.