10-year sentence for Hawaii man in fatal drunk driving crash

KAILUA-KONA — A Hawaii man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for a drunken driving car crash that left a woman dead.

Austin Kembel, 23, was sentenced Wednesday for the March 2018 accident that killed 41-year-old Trina Walker and injured another man, West Hawaii Today reported Thursday.

Kembel pleaded no contest to first-degree negligent homicide in January. Prosecutors dropped charges of manslaughter and second-degree negligent injury in exchange for the plea.

Kembel’s defense attorney, Michael Schlueter, asked for probation for his client but Kona Circuit Court Judge Melvin H. Fujino imposed the maximum possible sentence.

Family and friends of Walker in the courtroom applauded after Fujino announced the sentence.

The accident around in North Kona on Hawaii Island involved three cars, police said.

Kembel’s vehicle hit Walker’s car while attempting to pass it on the right. The collision sent Walker’s vehicle spinning into the northbound lane of the highway, where it was hit by another vehicle.

Walker was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Kembel and the driver of the third vehicle were both hospitalized.

The Hawaii Paroling Authority will determine how much time Kembel will serve before becoming eligible for parole.

Kembel, who was free on bail pending sentencing, was taken into custody after the judge’s ruling.

Walker’s sister, Tracey Maley, said Kembel “has forever altered the trajectory of all our lives.”

“He forced an unimaginably heartbreaking and heavy burden upon us,” Maley said.

She called it “a life sentence of sadness and despair.”

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