Man gets 10 years in fatal crash
Jameel Ramirez of Kauai was speeding in an accident that killed two people
LIHUE » A 21-year-old Hanamaulu man was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday for speeding on Kuhio Highway, crossing the center line and smashing into a car, killing a Kapaa husband and wife and crippling their son.
Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe imposed the sentence on Jameel Ramirez, who pleaded no contest to two vehicular homicide charges and the one count of negligent injury, citing Ramirez's past history of speeding.
Ramirez had already been cited by police for speeding, Kauai County Deputy Prosecutor Marc Guyot said. He got into his car on the morning of Oct. 31, 2005, conscious and alert, and proceeded to drive recklessly, weaving in and out of traffic before hitting the victims' car, Guyot added.
"You made a conscious decision to get into the vehicle and drive recklessly," Watanabe told Ramirez.
On Oct. 31, 2005, Ramirez drove well over twice the speed limit on Kuhio Highway near Wilcox Hospital in Lihue when he crashed, prosecutors said.
Helene "Lei" Nuesca died instantly. Louis Nuesca, her husband of more than 40 years, died 34 days later. Their son, Robert, a volunteer coach and father of four, remains a paraplegic and has severe brain damage that keeps him from speaking, walking or even breathing on his own.
Two families were destroyed by the accident, Ramirez's attorney, Emmanuel Guerrero, said yesterday. Ramirez, the father of a 2-year-old daughter, was married less than a week ago.
But Guerrero said after court, it is obvious who suffered more.
"I've lost my life," said Lei and Louis Nuesca's daughter, Danette Nuesca. "You wiped out half my family, and you devastated the other half."
Eleanor Nuesca-Rita had a fight with Lei, her mother, a few days before the accident. "I never got to tell her I was sorry," she said through tears yesterday.
And her kids, including her newborn daughter, can only visit their grandparents at their grave.
Ramirez apologized in a short statement, turning to the family and saying, "I'm very sorry for what transpired."
After the sentencing, Danette Nuesca shared hugs with some of Ramirez's family members, who were also in tears.
She said it is what her mother would have wanted: to forgive.