Safety advocates warn against holiday drinking, driving after infant’s death

The holidays are just a few weeks away, and that means a spike in the number of drunk-driving cases.

Advocates are urging the public to think twice before getting behind the wheel drunk, which could lead to a fatal accident like the one that happened Monday night.

Police say Waimanalo resident Annie Akau, 26, plowed through a family who had been in a marked crosswalk. Their 6-month-old baby, Donovan Naleieha, died.

Akau was arrested for multiple offenses, including driving under the influence, driving without a license, and negligent injury. She was released pending investigation, which commonly happens in these types of cases.

We reached out to Akau, but have not yet heard back.

Investigators say speed and alcohol are factors in the crash.

Arkie Koehl with Mothers Against Drunk Driving says the holiday season tends to see a rise in DUI cases nationwide.

“There’s also an uptick, I’m happy to say, on police roadblocks and police patrols, and they’re going to catch you,” Koehl said. “If you’re stupid enough to do this, the chances are you’ll get caught.”

Cora Speck with Queen’s Medical Center Trauma Services says it’s important to plan ahead, and if you’re going somewhere where drinking is involved, take away the person’s keys if someone is too drunk to drive or call 911.

“Even in the best-case scenarios, when we have best trauma team on-staff, or the ORs are ready to go, we know we can’t always save lives, and that’s why prevention is so important,” Speck said.

Speck says think about who you could be hurting if you drive impaired.

“If anyone were to take a glimpse of a waiting room outside of an ICU and see the heartache families have to go through, especially at this time of year,” Speck said. “There’s
never a good time to lose a child, but this time of year is especially rough.”

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