An accident that left an Ewa Beach man dead has now become even more tragic for the loved ones left behind because of a mistake by the Honolulu City Prosecutor’s office.
In January of 2012, Wallace Nakama was hit while crossing Fort Weaver Road by a driver whose vehicle was making a left turn from Ewa Beach Road. The 77-year-old Nakama died a few weeks later from his injuries. A 25-year-old woman was arrested, and there was an investigation, but for months, there was no word on the progress of the case.
Nakama’s son Ron called the prosecutor’s office recently to check on the case. “About two months ago, I called the prosecutor’s office, and what he told me that the police just handed in the report.”
Ron Nakama later called again, and this time, he was told the files were missing. “So the only advice he gave me was to go to civil court.”
Spokesman Dave Koga went on to say that “while we can try to explain the lapse in pointing to the number of cases moving through the misdemeanor traffic division on any given day, there is no excuse for this kind of failure – and we make none.”
If the case had gone to criminal court, it would have been prosecuted as a misdemeanor negligent homicide in the third degree. Koga told KHON2 that “alcohol, drugs or speed were not factors” and that the driver in this case “simply did not see Mr. Nakama.”
Koga added that “the prosecutor’s office extends our deepest regrets to Mr. Nakama’s family. While this may be of little consolation, procedural changes are being put into place to prevent this from happening again.”
In reaction to the apology, Ron Nakama told KHON2 “It’s kinda too late.”
His sister Debbie Nakama added “the way we found out was by calling them. And as far as the apology goes, I don’t know what to say, I really don’t.”
A University of Hawaii law professor says if the case had gone to criminal court, it could have helped with any future civil lawsuit.
“I used to do plaintiff’s work,” said Ken Lawson. “You want that conviction there because it helps to settle the case in the civil area.”
But for Ron Nakama, there is no interest in filing a lawsuit. “We’re not out for the money. I’m just looking out for justice.”
Even if the Nakamas decide to sue, the statute of limitations on a civil case in this matter has also run out.