Civil suit filed in pedestrian death

LIHUE —The family of a woman who was struck and killed by a car driver in March has filed a wrongful death suit against the Kalaheo man who hit her.

The estate of the late Jill Garnett filed the civil suit in 5th Circuit Court last week.

Citing negligence by Robert Wayne Yount, 82, the vehicle’s operator, it seeks unspecified damages.

Criminal charges from the fatal accident could be filed too, officials said.

Garnett, 26, of Waimea, was struck and killed by a Mazda MPVH as she was walking west on the eastbound shoulder of Kaumualii Highway near the Kipu Road junction in Puhi shortly before 9 a.m. March 16.

Yount was arrested after the accident and booked for second-degree negligent homicide, but was released pending further investigation.

Criminal charges haven’t been filed, but county spokesperson Sarah Blane said they could be coming.

The Kauai Police Department’s Traffic Safety Section has completed its investigation of the incident.

“At this time, officers are working with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to assist in bringing the case to trial,” Blane said.

The County Prosecuting office declined to comment.

The civil suit was filed on Oct. 16 by the Lihue firm of Hempey and Meyers. It alleges that Yount was swerving all over the roadway and making U-turns prior to the fatal accident.

He was involved in another traffic accident earlier that morning.

The case involving the earlier incident reportedly caused property damage but was dismissed without prejudice in Kauai District Court on Aug. 20.

Dismissing without prejudice means the state would be allowed to refile charges.

The civil suit alleges that Yount, who did not sustain any significant injuries from running off the road into Garnett, was the only person in his vehicle and did not take any action to attend to the victim at the scene or to seek out others to help.

Garnett died either at the scene of the incident or later at Wilcox Memorial Hospital, according to the complaint. The suit is seeking general and special damages in an amount to be proven at trial for wrongful death, medical and funeral expenses and negligence.

The suit also seeks punitive damages for alleging that Yount’s actions were reckless and willful beyond any reasonable understanding.

Family of Yount told The Garden Island they had not been served with the complaint yet and that the family could not make any comment.

Garnett was a Waimea resident and was employed as a tour scheduler for Na Pali Explorer. She was not married and didn’t have any children.

She was originally from Huntington Beach, Calif., and had been living on Kauai for six years prior to her death.

She attended school on Kauai and was a graduate of the Junior Lifeguard program.

The family of Garnett includes her mother Kim, an elder brother Joseph, and a younger brother, David, of Huntington Beach.

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