Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024 |
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LIHU‘E — Michael Pagelsdorf, 30, of Lihu‘e, was sentenced Jan. 30 to 10 years in prison for his role in the 2011 traffic crash that caused the death of a 14-month-old infant.
At the time of the accident, the child was on Pagelsdorf’s lap and received a fatal blow from the vehicle’s airbag. Additionally, Pagelsdorf had methamphetamine and marijuana in his blood and was driving on a suspended license, according to a county press release.
“This was a terrible tragedy, and one that was completely avoidable,” County Prosecutor Justin Kollar said in the release. “Mr. Pagelsdorf made the conscious decision to remove the infant from the child safety seat, and he will have to live with the consequences of that decision for the rest of his life. My hope is that others learn from this mistake and avoid repeating it.”
Pagelsdorf pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the first degree, a class B felony, and was ordered by Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe to immediately begin serving his sentence.
On Feb. 20, 2011, Pagelsdorf was driving eastbound on Kaumuali‘i Highway in Lihu‘e, in bumper-to-bumper afternoon traffic, with the infant on his lap, according to county officials.
Pagelsdorf looked down for a second and when he looked up, he was unable to stop his vehicle from crashing into the vehicle that was stopped in front of him.
The airbag in his vehicle deployed, causing fatal injuries to the infant, the release states.
The state was represented by First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kevin K. Takata.
Kaua‘i Police Department Sgt. Jason Overmyer, from KPD’s Traffic Safety Section, reminded the public of the importance of properly securing children in child safety seats.
“Even in a slow-speed crash like this one, airbags deploy with tremendous speed and force and can cause serious, even fatal injuries,” Overmyer said in the release.
“We urge the public to follow the law and use the correct seats and seatbelts in the proper manner so that this never happens again in our community.”
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