Tour bus driver pleads no contest
A former Roberts Hawaii tour bus driver who refused to be tested for drug or alcohol use following a fatal head-on collision in Kahaluu pleaded no contest to manslaughter yesterday.
Steven Oshiro, 50, agreed to the maximum 20-year prison term.
Corey Voss, 41, died in the June 2006 crash, just a few months before his wife was scheduled to give birth to their first child. Witnesses told police Oshiro's bus crossed the center line on Kamehameha Highway several times before slamming head-on into Voss's sport utility vehicle.
"By accepting the maximum penalty in this case, Mr. Oshiro has taken full responsibility for his actions, and in this small way accepts responsibility for what happened to the Voss family," said David Hayakawa, Oshiro's lawyer.
Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario will sentence Oshiro April 9.
As part of the agreement, Oshiro went straight to jail at the conclusion of yesterday's hearing. He had been free on bail since an Oahu grand jury indicted him last July.
Prosecutor Peter Carlisle, who is handling the case, said he insisted Oshiro turn himself in immediately.
"I didn't want to take the risk of him being out in the community any longer than he's already been," he said.
In exchange for the no-contest plea, Carlisle will ask that Oshiro serve no more than 10 years before he is eligible for parole. Carlisle said he agreed to ask for no more than 10 years because Oshiro accepted responsibility for what he did and has no criminal history.
Hayakawa said he believes Oshiro is facing a prison term of eight to 10 years.
Carlisle said a drug recognition expert concluded that Oshiro was high on drugs, probably methamphetamine, based on his behavior and physical condition observed by others before and after the crash.
Carlisle said he lined up witnesses who were aboard Oshiro's bus earlier in the day and has video taken by one of them showing Oshiro rocking side to side and to and fro unsteadily in his driver's seat as the bus weaved down the highway.
The passengers were students, parents and officials from Olathe East High School in Kansas on a trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Carlisle said they described it as the "ride from hell" and many feared the bus might plunge off a cliff or into the ocean. He said the tour guide and vice principal warned Oshiro about his driving and refused to ride back to Waikiki with him.
Carlisle said Oshiro was on his way back to Honolulu after his passengers had disembarked in Laie when he crashed into Voss's SUV.
Roberts fired Oshiro for refusing to submit to drug and alcohol testing after the crash. The company also said Oshiro was involved in another accident earlier in the day involving one of its buses and a city bus.