DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Gwen Vierra and Robert Prasser talked yesterday at Michael Nakamura Park in Mililani about losing their loved ones in driving accidents. Vierra, holding her 17-year-old son Lanakila's graduation picture, tearfully spoke about how he died on May 13, 2006, when the driver of the car he was in lost control and crashed. Shane Bachiller, 18, was also killed in the accident. Prasser later talked about his nephew Shannon Waiwaiole, 22, being killed in a March 2003 car crash after a birthday party.
Drivers urged to be safe
Parents and police plead for safety as summer travel and graduations approach
With high school graduations coming up, Gwen Vierra is steeling herself.
Vierra lost her 17-year-old son Lanakila K. Vierra in a fatal crash two years ago after a graduation party. Her younger son, now 17, is graduating May 31 from Waialua High School.
"I give God the glory that he will protect us from that happening again," she said, when asked about whether she fears for her son. "Kids are kids, but we as parents need to remind our children that we can't be with them the whole time."
Vierra joined the Honolulu Police Department in pleading with drivers to be safe on the road as Hawaii enters the Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the summer travel season, and graduation season. Police officials held a news conference yesterday at Michael S. Nakamura Park in Mililani.
Officers will conduct roadblocks to check for drivers under the influence beginning this weekend and throughout the summer.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
After the news conference yesterday, Lehua Prasser, left, wife of Robert Prasser, and Gwen Vierra gave each other a comforting hug. The Prassers lost a nephew and Vierra lost a son in separate car accidents.
"Memorial Day nationwide kicks off the 101 deadliest days on the freeways," said police spokesman Maj. Frank Fujii. "During the summertime, people are driving with their families or are on vacation. Nothing could spoil vacations or graduations quicker than tragedies."
Lanakila Vierra and Shane Bachiller, 18, were passengers in a compact car on May 13, 2006. At about 3:47 a.m. on Kaukonahua Road, the driver, Billy Lamug, lost control of the vehicle.
Vierra and Bachiller were ejected from the car and died. There were five teenagers in the car, and friends said they were returning from a party in Waipahu to celebrate Bachiller's 18th birthday.
Lamug, 20, was indicted last month on two counts of second-degree negligent homicide and first-degree negligent injury.
Vierra declined comment on the case, citing that the case is ongoing. She did say that it is believed Lamug was not drinking and driving, but that he was driving "unsafe."
Vierra said since the accident, she has told her younger son to call her to pick him up if he ever feels worried or unsafe with another driver.
Former Assistant Police Chief Robert Prasser echoed Vierra's comments, urging parents to talk to their children about driving safety. Prasser is the uncle by marriage of 22-year-old Shannon Waiwaiole, who was one of five people killed in a single-car crash in Haleiwa in March 2003.
Prasser said he remembers when he received the call. He was still with the Police Department at the time, and he had to go to the scene of the accident to help identify his nephew.
"I hope the community doesn't characterize these young men as just bad kids," Prasser said. "They're representative of young kids who made a mistake, made some bad judgment, and they didn't get a second chance."