Drunken driving fatal crash land woman in jail

LIHUE – Brittney L. Kane, 20, of Koloa, was sentenced Wednesday to a year in jail for the 2011 fatal crash that killed 16-year-old Nahele Kapua and seriously injured 15-year-old passenger Koahe Cordeiro.

Fifth Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe also ordered Kane to serve a 10-year term of probation, revoked her driver’s license for five years and mandated 500 hours of community service. Kane will have to pay more than $7,000 in restitution for funeral expenses.

The judge also ordered Kane to give public presentations about the dangers of drinking and driving, and to write letters to The Garden Island newspaper on the dangers of drinking and driving and racing on the highways.

“We have lost too many young lives to drinking and driving. This immense tragedy is compounded by the knowledge that it was utterly avoidable,” Prosecuting Attorney Justin F. Kollar said in a press release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kapua family as they move forward in their lives without their daughter, Nahele.

Kollar praised Watanabe for her sensitivity and diligence in crafting a difficult sentence that could educate others, and also warned of the dangers of drinking and driving.

“Especially with graduation season fast approaching, we urge everyone, particularly the young people in our community, to learn from the devastating impact cases like these have on everyone they touch,” he said. “Please make safe and smart decisions; the lives of our children, grandchildren and siblings are far too precious to be cast aside so senselessly.”

Kane, then 16, had been drinking alcohol with her two friends on the evening of Sept. 11, 2011, while at a teenage birthday party in a cabana at the Aloha Beach Resort in Kapaa. Later that night, they were driving from Hanamaulu back to the hotel party, after inviting another friend to join them. Up to a dozen teens attended the unchaperoned party, which Kane helped plan, and were consuming beer, jello shots, and “jungle juice,” a concoction of fruit, juice and alcohol.

Just prior to the collision, Kane, driving a red Pontiac Grand AM, began racing a Mazda RX7 on the highway, traveling at speeds over 75 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone. She then lost control of her vehicle and crashed into a tree on the side of the highway.

Kapua, the back seat passenger, was ejected from the vehicle and died upon impact with the ground. Kane and Cordeiro had to be extricated from the crumpled vehicle, which had come to rest on its roof after flipping over.

During the investigation, an expert determined that at the time of the crash, Kane had a blood alcohol concentration of approximately .153 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, well over the legal limit of .08 BAC for persons over the age of 21 years. No measurable amount is allowed for those driving under the age of 21.

In late 2013, Family Court waived jurisdiction over Kane after an evidentiary hearing. Kane was subsequently indicted by a grand jury and the case was set for trial in Circuit Court.

On Feb. 9, pursuant to a plea agreement, Kane pleaded no contest to the charges of manslaughter and negligent injury in the first degree.

Court-appointed attorney Rosa Flores represented Kane in Circuit Court. Melinda K. Mendes was the deputy prosecuting attorney assigned to the case.

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