Woman gets 18 months for deadly car accident
POSTED: Thursday, February 19, 2009
A 27-year-old former Kapolei woman was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison for first-degree negligent homicide in the 2007 death of a decorated Vietnam War veteran.
Sarah Whitford was over the legal alcohol limit when she smashed into Local Pastor Valaile Fuiava Jr.
Circuit Judge Richard Perkins included the prison term as part of Sarah Whitford's five-year probation sentence. She was facing a maximum 10-year prison term.
Her lawyer, Michael Green, said Whitford is pregnant and will give birth in prison, then turn over her baby to Whitford's mother.
The Honolulu Police Department's fatal-accident report says Whitford's blood alcohol content was 0.20, nearly three times the legal threshold of 0.08 for drunken driving, an hour after she crashed her car into the back of Valaile Fuiava's motorcycle on Haleiwa Road in Waialua on March 31, 2007.
The speed limit on Haleiwa Road is 25 mph. Police said Whitford's car was traveling 56-77 mph.
The car continued traveling 732 feet from the point of impact, dragging Fuiava's body for about a third of the way and the motorcycle for another third of the way before it crashed into a concrete barrier and flipped onto its side, the report said.
Fuiava, 55, who was a pastor of a local church, was pronounced dead at the scene.
An ambulance took Whitford to the Queen's Medical Center in critical condition. She said she woke up in the hospital with a broken arm and broken ankle and no memory of what happened.
After she recovered from her injuries and underwent rehabilitation for alcohol dependence, Whitford says she began speaking to adults and teenagers about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Green said Whitford did not know at the time of the crash that she is genetically susceptible to alcohol dependence because of Choctaw heritage.
Fuiava's daughter Lahela Moeaveave dismissed Green's assertion as an excuse.
"The fact of the matter is she's not owning up to what she did. She's not taking responsibility," Moeaveave said.