Driver gets 4 years’ pro­ba­tion in death of Li­hue pedes­trian

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - LOCAL - By Rose­marie Bernardo rbernardo@starad­ver­tiser.com

A 34-year-old woman was sen­tenced this week to pro­ba­tion in the death of a pedes­trian hit in a cross­walk in Li­hue.

Kauai Cir­cuit Judge Kath­leen Watan­abe sen­tenced Tierra Ai­olupotea to four years’ pro­ba­tion and 240 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice. Ai­olupotea pleaded no con­test un­der a plea agree­ment to a charge of sec­ond-de­gree neg­li­gent homi­cide, a Class C felony pun­ish­able by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Ai­olupotea’s lawyer said she didn’t know she hit any­one.

On Oct. 7, 2014, Paulanna Lar­ish, 60, of Li­hue was struck by two ve­hi­cles while cross­ing Rice Street in a cross­walk fronting the Li­hue Post Of­fice. Po­lice said Lar­ish was cross­ing the street dur­ing the early morn­ing hours when she was first hit by a gray Ta­coma driven by Der­reck Agan.

Agan stopped his truck and at­tempted to help her when a sec­ond ve­hi­cle, a dark blue Mer­cury Moun­taineer driven by Ai­olupotea, struck Lar­ish and failed to stop. Po­lice ar­rested her a week later.

“This is a tragic case in­volv­ing some very un­usual cir­cum­stances,” said Kauai Pros­e­cu­tor Justin Kol­lar. “Our thoughts are with the friends and fam­ily of Paulanna Lar­ish, and we hope this brings the fam­ily some clo­sure.”

Watan­abe also or­dered Ai­olupotea, who was liv­ing on Kauai at the time of the ac­ci­dent and now lives on Oahu, to pay Lar­ish’s fam­ily an es­ti­mated $2,000 for funeral ex­penses.

Ai­olupotea, also known as Tierra Medeiros, “has no knowl­edge or rec­ol­lec­tion of the in­ci­dent,” said her at­tor­ney, Eric Seitz.

The morn­ing was dark and rainy.

“It was a hor­ri­ble event,” Seitz said.

An au­topsy found Lar­ish died from chest in­juries af­ter be­ing struck by the sec­ond ve­hi­cle, driven by Ai­olupotea.

“Every­body in­volved is very sad­dened of what hap­pened,” Seitz said.

A Kauai grand jury also in­dicted Agan in De­cem­ber 2015, and he faces a charge of first-de­gree neg­li­gent homi­cide, a Class B felony. A court doc­u­ment said a blood test showed he was driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of Te­mazepam, pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion to treat in­som­nia, at the time of the ac­ci­dent.

Agan’s hear­ing is set for Aug. 29.

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