DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
John Szemkow, left, shown here yesterday in Judge Derrick Chan's courtroom, pleaded no contest to charges that he left the scene of a fatal accident in Kunia that left four farmworkers dead. His defense attorney is Samuel King Jr.
Driver does not contest guilt in fatal wreck
Prosecutors will seek the maximum sentence for a man who pleaded no contest to charges that he left the scene of a fatal accident in Kunia that left four farmworkers dead.
John J. Szemkow, 47, of Kapolei pleaded no contest to failing to remain at the scene of a fatal crash, and four counts of third-degree negligent homicide.
He is accused of causing the deaths of Auilina Polendey, 59; Ana Sacalamitao, 46; Gertrudis Montano, 59; and Lorna Laroco, 53; all of whom were ejected from the back of a pickup truck in a collision on April 24, 2006.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Russell Uehara said he will seek maximum prison sentences on each of the five charges for a total of 14 years.
"He snuffed out the lives of four people," Uehara said. "The facts speak for themselves. ... I'm not even sure I want to call it an accident."
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. The negligent-homicide charges are misdemeanors each punishable up to one year in prison with $2,000 in fines.
Szemkow was the driver of a sedan going north on Kunia Road that crossed a yellow line to overtake slower traffic.
A pickup truck with 12 people in it was going south on the road near the Anonui Street intersection. The driver swerved to get out of the way of Szemkow's vehicle and collided with a concrete mixer truck.
"He should have realized what he did," Uehara said. The crash also injured eight others. All of them worked at Larry Jefts Farm on Kunia Road.
The sedan drove off, and witnesses reported seeing the car enter Schofield Barracks. Szemkow was identified as the sedan's driver and was indicted in December.
Szemkow and his attorney Samuel King Jr. declined comment after yesterday's hearing. Circuit Judge Derrick Chan set sentencing for June 23.