Driver gets 30 days in jail for triple fatality
A 22-year-old Los Angeles man who pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of three relatives in a single-vehicle crash on Likelike Highway was ordered yesterday to spend 30 days in jail.
Jonathan Fornua was driving a rented sport utility vehicle with other family members on April 14, 2004, when the car struck a concrete barrier, went airborne and flipped onto its roof at least once.
Killed in the crash were Joseph Naulu, 13, Mary Filimoehala, 18, and Winnie Naulu, 26. All were headed to a wedding rehearsal for an aunt who was to be married the next day.
All three families of the deceased wrote the court asking that Fornua not be sent to prison, said defense attorney David Hayakawa.
"This was a perfect kid, never in trouble before, no drinking, (no) drugs, no alcohol whatsoever," he said. "His employers love him, he has two jobs, is a lifelong active church member, choir director."
Deputy Prosecutor Michelle Puu asked for the maximum five-year term for each of the three counts of second-degree negligent homicide counts Fornua pleaded to in April.
At an earlier hearing, Puu said that data from a "black box" in the Chevy Trailblazer -- similar to black boxes on aircraft -- showed that the SUV was going at least 70 mph five seconds before the crash. The speed limit in the area is 35 mph.
The reports say excessive speed was the factor.
Fornua does not recall what happened, Hayakawa said.
Circuit Judge Derrick Chan considered Fornua's clean record and the desire of the families that he not be sent to prison, Hayakawa said.
But the court expressed the greater society's concern for how people drive, the consequences and the fact that people cannot turn roadways into private racetracks; and, given the three deaths, there had to be some jail imposed, Hayakawa said.
"We accept this tough but fair sentence," he said. "Jonathan's goal was to take responsibility for his actions so he can start the process of moving forward in his life."
The tragedy had a devastating effect on the entire extended family, who had come from all over to attend the wedding, Hayakawa said.
"Jonathan told the court he thinks about those he hurt every single day."