LIHUE — Thursday was a big day for 28-year-old Jessica Arps. She could finally get closure.
Jason David Dameron, 39, Koloa, was sentenced to one year in jail and five years of probation and ordered to pay more than $262,000 in restitution to cover medical costs for a 2014 accident which caused Arps to have to spend one month in the hospital and several months of on-going rehabilitation.
“There were nights, I wanted to die,” Arps said. “I couldn’t sleep.”
Her mother helped her through it, but said Jessica still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We were in the Anahola house and she was in the hospital bed, and anytime a vehicle would go by, she would think the vehicle would hit her,” Melinda Arps said. “Night terrors. Another time, we were on the beach one night and a truck was revving up and she went into complete hysteria. She had a lot of night terrors and flashbacks. Anytime a car would go by, she would think they were going to run her over.”
In December, Dameron pleaded no contest to first-degree negligent injury — a class C felony — and operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. An inattention to driving charge and a second-degree reckless endangering charge were dropped.
His blood alcohol content was .215 on the night of accident.
“You’ve had your chance to change your behavior,” Fifth Circuit Court Chief Randal Valenciano told Dameron. “You’ve had multiple chances, actually.”
After a night out bowling with friends on April 4, 2014, Arps decided to stop at Menehune Pond lookout about 10 p.m. to reflect on life. She had started a job as a nurse at Wilcox Memorial Hospital and had received her first paycheck. She was happy.
But all of that was nearly stripped away when Jason David Dameron — driving nearly three times the legal limit for alcohol — hit Arps as she arrived at the lookout with a friend.
“I wanted to go to yoga the next day,” she recalled. “We had just gotten there. My door was still open and everything. Then this car pinned me against the other car. I fell under. I was banging so hard, I broke my hand.”
When Dameron pinned her against the 2002 Toyota Rav 4 with his 2005 Toyota Tacoma pickup, he crushed her bones and severed her torso from her body, prosecutors said.
Arps fell underneath Dameron’s truck and as he drove, he dragged her underneath between both cars, sources said. Arps pounded the undercarriage of Dameron’s truck attempting to get him to stop, Arps said.
At one point, Dameron attempted to get out of his truck, but couldn’t, so he ran over Arps a second time, this time severing her leg from her body, sources said.
The entire time this was occurring, Dameron’s 9-year-old daughter was in the truck, prosecutors said.
Dameron, a trained first responder with PMRF, called his wife to pick up their daughter, Arps said. He did not attempt to call police.
Arps’ friend got out through the trunk of the Rav 4 and called police.
Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said the 911 call was “disturbing.”
“It’s almost as though you can hear Jason’s gears working in his head,” Kollar said. “He tells the dispatchers that she’s OK and she can go home. He was trying to minimize the severity of the situation instead of trying to help a grievously injured young woman who he had just run into.”
Dameron’s license was suspended for a period of five years.
Dameron had a history of OVUII priors dating back to 2003 beginning with a conviction. In 2004, he was arrested for driving under the influence, but not charged. In 2005, he was arrested for driving under the influence, but the case was down to inattention to driving.
Dameron was arrested on Aug. 29, 2014 after the charge for the accident against Arps and was in jail for about hour until he bailed out.
Kollar said Arps’ is lucky to have such a strong support system.
“Jessica is an extremely courageous person,” he said. “She has a loving and supporting family. I really admire the way that they pulled together and came through this situation.”
Family, friends and supporters packed the courtroom Thursday to hear Dameron’s sentence.
When Jessica Arps gave her five-page statement to the court, her family listened intently, some of them crying.
“When she said she wanted to die, she never told me that,” said Michael Arps, Jessica’s father, through tears. “Through all her pain, nobody can feel that. Just her. I’m just overwhelmed. But it’s a bit of closure for Jess.”
Michael Arps said he’s relieved that the judge finally made a sentence and that the hurdles of court are over. He said he understands that this must also be difficult for Dameron’s family.
“The judge is right. There is no right or wrong,” he said.
Jessica Arps said although her life has changed completely, she is ready to move on.
“It’s really all about faith,” she said. “God told me I was going to be OK at that scene of the accident, so I had to reassure everyone else.”