STAR-BULLETIN / 2006
A solid yellow line warns motorists not to pass on this section of Kunia Road, where four people were killed in an April 2006 collision.
Charges filed in fatal crash
It has been 21 months since Aquilina Polendey and three fellow farmworkers died when the pickup truck they were riding crashed head-on into a concrete mixer truck on Kunia Road.
Polendey's husband, Ricardo, was losing hope that someone would be brought to justice for the crash.
But he learned yesterday that an Oahu grand jury charged John Szemkow, 47, of Kapolei with negligent homicide and leaving the scene of the April 24, 2006, crash.
"I'm happy. I'm very, very happy," Polendey said.
The grand jury returned an indictment Thursday charging Szemkow with three counts of third-degree negligent homicide and one charge of failing to remain at the scene of the deadly crash. Third-degree negligent homicide is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Failing to remain at the scene of a crash with serious injuries or death is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Aquilina Polendey, 59, Ana Sacalamitao, 46, both of Waipahu; Gertrudis Montano, 59, and Lorna Laroco, 53, both of Ewa Beach, were ejected from the back of the pickup in the collision. They were pronounced dead at the scene. The crash also injured eight other people who were in the pickup. All of them worked at Larry Jefts Farm on Kunia Road.
Prosecutors allege Szemkow was the driver of a sedan going north on Kunia Road that crossed a solid yellow line to overtake slower traffic.
The pickup truck with the victims was going south on Kunia Road near the Anonui Street intersection.
The driver of the pickup swerved to get out of the way of the sedan but collided with a concrete mixer truck.
The sedan drove off, and witnesses reported seeing the car enter Schofield Barracks. Military officials assisted Honolulu police, who questioned a 46-year-old man who denied being at the crash.
Four months after the crash, two people sued Szemkow, the drivers of the other vehicles, Island Ready Mix Concrete Inc., Waikele Farms Inc. and the owners of Larry Jefts Farm. The plaintiffs have so far agreed to a settlement offer from one driver, Waikele Farms and Jefts.