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"It breaks me apart that an action so senseless, by me, cost their lives and not mine," Brian Dade said, asking forgiveness from the families who filled the courtroom at his sentencing.
During sentencing, Circuit Court Judge Dexter Del Rosario called the accident a tragedy not only because three promising young men died, "but also because it was preventable by the mere exercise of personal responsibility."
Dade, then 18, was speeding and had passed other cars carrying other classmates on winding Kaukonahua Road on April 12, 2001. He lost control during a turn and struck a guardrail on the opposite side of the road before being broadsided by an oncoming car.
Mililani High seniors Andrew Delos Reyes, 18, and Anthony Alexander, 17, died at the scene. Jeremy Tolentino, 18, died at the hospital.
Yesterday, Dade referred to them as "my boys" and "my everything," and apologized to his friends for what they will never have or become because he made the mistake of drinking and driving.
Deputy public defender Ken Shimozono had argued for probation, noting that Dade's actions were negligent -- not intentional or reckless -- and did not involve racing. Also, while Dade had been drinking, the level of alcohol in his system at the time did not exceed the legal limit.
Shimozono said Dade never blamed his friends, who had been drinking heavily and had marijuana in their systems, for the accident. Dade had taken responsibility for the accident, he said.
But Del Rosario based his ruling on the loss of lives and Dade's driving, saying "a sentence of probation would depreciate the seriousness of Mr. Dade's conduct and would not afford just punishment for this offense."
Still, Del Rosario allowed Dade to serve five maximum five-year terms concurrently.
Deputy prosecutor Peter Marrack had argued for the prison terms to be served consecutively. Despite the loss of his three friends, Marrack said, Dade continued to drive. And earlier this year, he disregarded a judge's order to quit driving and was cited for a traffic violation while on supervised release.
Yesterday, family members spoke of the teenagers' accomplishments and the pain of not seeing them fulfill their dreams. They talked fondly and lovingly about Delos Reyes, the captain of the wrestling team; Alexander, the avid pig hunter; and Tolentino, the accomplished auto mechanic.
They described an empty seat at the kitchen table, the sister who had to identify her brother's body in the hospital and break the news to their parents, and the grandchildren and nephews and nieces they will never get to enjoy. They talked about the grief and heartache they continue to suffer today.
Justin Delos Reyes, the eldest brother of Andrew Delos Reyes, called it a "living hell" not being able to see and touch his brother ever again. "It's unfair that your family still gets to see you, touch you and hear you," he said to Dade.
"For the rest of your life, you will live with the guilt of ending three young lives -- a small price to pay for the life sentence you have bestowed on us," Delos Reyes said.
After the sentencing, all three families embraced outside the courtroom and shed more tears.
At least one mother expressed hope that they could eventually forgive Dade.
"We're not out for vengeance," said Evelyn Delos Reyes, who lost the youngest of her three sons in the crash.
She said she prayed for Dade and her heart went out to him and his family when she learned he had lost his 2-year-old son a year ago in a drowning accident.
"We just want him to realize his actions broke our heart. My boy will never come back," she said. "But we're Christian people and we're forgiving people ... and it will come," she said as she and her family left the courthouse.
Dale Andres, whose wife, Cecilia, suffered far more serious injuries in the crash than he did, said their faith in God has sustained them these last few years. He said they continue to make that drive on Kaukonahua Road every weekend to fellowship with their church and family.
As Christians they have forgiven Dade, and they view the tragedy as a second chance in life. And life, Andres said, is too precious to waste.
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