‘Please forgive me’: Driver in Kakaako pedestrian crash that killed 3 addresses families in court
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The driver who was speeding through Kakaako when he plowed into a group of pedestrians in 2019, killing three, will serve 30 years behind bars.
A judge handed down the sentence Thursday as part of a plea deal.
Alins Sumang, 29, was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that was speeding westward on Ala Moana Boulevard when he lost control near Kamakee Street. He veered into a pedestrian island, killing three people waiting to cross the street and injuring four others.
Investigators also found a half-empty bottle of liquor in his vehicle.
Sumang pleaded guilty in March to manslaughter in connection with the deaths of Travis Lau of Honolulu, Casimir Pokorny of Pennsylvania and Reino Ikeda of Japan.
Before sentencing, families of the victims were given the chance to address the court.
Dr. William Lau spoke first about his son, who was also a physician.
“His skill as a cardiovascular anesthesiologist certainly saved many patients, and might have saved ours, if he was not cut down by the defendant,” Lau said.
Lau broke down as he remember his son as an athlete.
“We never got to run a marathon together,” he sobbed.
Sumang pleaded guilty to assault charges for the four pedestrians who were seriously injured.
Bronson Nauka was one of them. He was hospitalized for four months after the crash. His wife recounted their ongoing physical and emotional ordeal.
“He still has pain every day, some days more than others,“ said Ululani Nauka. “Standing for too long, sitting for too long, could affect the rest of the day.”
Even the judge had a rare show of emotion from the bench.
“There is no sentence that I could...that would be commensurate to the amount of pain and suffering that the victims and their families have gone through...and will continue to endure,” said Circuit Court Judge Trish Morikawa. Her voice broke as she spoke, and she paused a few times to regain her composure before handing down the sentence.
In the emotional sentencing hearing, Sumang apologized to the victims and their families.
“Please forgive me for my actions that day. And if that’s not possible, just know that I am truly sorry, and I regret every minute of that day,” he said.
“Not a day goes by that I wish that I could trade places or just turn back the hands of time. Every day I wake up thinking of all the people I’ve hurt and how much they mean to their families, and it just breaks my heart, knowing that I caused all that pain and suffering.”
While prosecutors said they sought maximum terms for Sumang, some of the victims were disappointed in the sentence.
“I believe he’s not even going to stay the full 30 years. So he’s gonna get out, still young, still able, still capable of doing whatever he wants,” said Melissa Lau, Travis Lau’s widow.
“These people are never going to come back home.”
Sumang will also be eligible for parole.
“I think what was upsetting also to hear was that parole could be a possibility in six years and eight months, even though we don’t think that’s likely. But that’s like, whoa, that’s like a slap in the face, I think,” said Theresa Paulette, the victim services specialist with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Under the plea agreement, Sumang will serve three concurrent 20-year sentences manslaughter for the deaths, and four concurrent five-year terms for assault. The manslaughter and assault terms will be served consecutively, for a total of 25 years. Another five years was added for violating probation in a 2016 case.
After the sentencing hearing, Melissa Lau said the apology fell short.
“Am I ever going to forgive him? Never. Am I ever going to feel bad for him? Never.”
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