Maui police use taser on suspect at Hannah Brown memorial impaired driving checkpoint : Maui Now

Family members of Hannah Brown held signs at an impaired driving checkpoint held Wednesday night in her honor along the Kūihelani Highway, where she lost her life to a drunk driver in 2019. PC: courtesy (11.23.22)

Suspect arrested at DUI memorial checkpoint

A man suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs was arrested and tased by police Wednesday night at the annual impaired driving checkpoint held in memory Hannah Brown.

Event organizers tell Maui Now that the suspect was tased after he allegedly resisted officers. Medics were called to the scene as procedure dictates to remove the taser probes.

Authorities ordered a search warrant for permission to conduct a blood draw. We are told that there were no injuries to officers or the individual arrested, according to event organizers.

The checkpoint was held on the Kūihelani Highway, at the crash site where 19-year-old Hannah Brown lost her life to a drunk driver on June 23, 2019. During the deadly crash, Brown’s car was struck head-on by a motorist who was traveling in the wrong direction at a rate of 90 mph, according to authorities.

Earlier in the evening, a press conference announcing the impaired driving awareness holiday campaign was held outside of the offices of the State of Hawaiʻi Organization of Police Officers in Wailuku.

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Sober driving advocates and families of people killed in drunk or impaired driving crashes, were joined by officers with the Maui Police Department’s Traffic Division, members of the Hawai’i Alcohol Policy Alliance and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Among those in attendance were families of Hannah Brown; Dané Sadang, who lost her 17-year-old son, Kahiau Hill on May 30, 2021 on the Kahekili Highway in Waiheʻe; and Andrea Maniago who began volunteering with MADD in 2009 after losing her 16-year-old son Kaio Fukushima to a drunk driver. 

Photos of Kahiau Hill, Hannah Brown, and Kaio Fukushima were displayed as family members and community advocates launched an impaired driving awareness campaign ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. PC: Wendy Osher (11.23.22)

Advocating for change:
Seeking to lower the Blood Alcohol Concentration to .05 for DUIs

The gathering was held in the hopes of changing the mindset of people who drive impaired on drugs and/or alcohol.

“We don’t seem to be learning from these tragedies. The fact that we’re one of the highest rates for alcohol impaired fatalities in the country is not something you want to be proud of,” said Rick Collins. “In the years since we’ve lost Hannah, we have to ask ourselves, what exactly have we done to prevent similar senseless loss of innocent life. The answer is: ‘Not nearly enough.’”

Collins said efforts to make the roadways safer is possible, “If we as a community make it clear–not only that friends and family shouldn’t drink and drive… but we need clear alcohol policies.” He said one such way to do this is to lower the blood alcohol concentration for impaired driving from .08 to .05.

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“The laws need to be changed. We need a .05 law now. We’ve pushed this through for two years at the state legislature and it got tabled for the last two years… We need to make stricter penalties so that you don’t have a family situation like Hannah’s where they (the offender) only get two years. That’s beyond comprehendible to me.”

–retired Lt. William Hankins

Hankins said strides have been made in the right direction with Kaulana’s Law which strengthens sentencing by authorizing the courts to extend prison terms for offenders convicted of first degree negligent homicide, when the offender fails to render aid to the injured at the scene of an accident.

The law was named after 19-year old Kaulana Werner, a former Kamehameha Schools football player, who was struck and killed by a car while crossing the street near his home in Nanakuli in April 2016. The alleged intoxicated driver did not stop to render aid.

The Maui County Council also passed a Tow Bill in December of 2019 that authorizes police to tow vehicles at the drivers or registered owners expense when they are arrested for a DUI. The measure was modeled after Aliyah’s law on Hawaiʻi Island.

“We need the legislators to step up and fight the alcohol industry and make them do the right thing,” said Hankins. “It’s tough. The one thing I learned really quickly is the alcohol industry is very well organized and very well funded. We need to keep fighting… and stop this crisis right now.”

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There are already 17 fatalities on Maui County roadways so far this year, compared to 15 in all of 2021. Of the 17 fatalities on Maui County roadways this year, 75% have been attributed to alcohol. Drugs and alcohol combined account for 81% of the traffic fatalities; and 100% is speed, alcohol or drug related.

“How in the hell is that acceptable? This is what happens when you divert resources and your attention away from the impaired driving problem,” said Hankins.

Families who have lost loved ones have a message:
“Please don’t drink and drive. It’s not worth it.”

The family of Kaio Fukushima stand behind a photo of him, which was displayed as family members and community advocates launched an impaired driving awareness campaign ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. PC: Wendy Osher (11.23.22)

Jerry Maniago, Kaio’s dad reflected as he looked upon his other children saying, “He will never get to meet them. Time is what we’re missing–time that they’ll never get to spend with their big brother. That’s what I want us to remember–that even though time heals, it doesn’t heal everything. We have good days and a lot of times we bad days, and sometimes it can hit you in a split second. There’s a memory–a holiday–that we remember that that person is not here, and it hits your like a ton of bricks, and it can feel like it was yesterday.”

Family members and friends of Kahiau Hill held signs at an impaired driving checkpoint held Wednesday night along the Kūihelani Highway. PC: courtesy (11.23.22)

Kahiau’s mom, Dané Sadang also reflected on her son’s passing: “I lost him a year and a half ago due to impaired driving. He was definitely a Maui boy… We miss him every day. Holiday seasons are the roughest time for our family because it’s the time we get together and spend quality time, and he’s no longer in the seat next to me. He was the youngest out of my three children.”

A photo of Kahiau Hill was displayed as family members and community advocates launched an impaired driving awareness campaign ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. PC: Wendy Osher (11.23.22)

“Through his passing we’ve learned so much, and that is why I am here. I’m so thankful to have these two moms and the support of the Maui Police Department and the entire community because we are here to share the message–to reduce drinking and driving and the impact on this entire community, and send a message to everyone: Please be safe. Life is precious and just don’t drink and drive,” said Sadang.

“Have all the fun you want, but don’t jump in that car, because losing a life is something that I can never explain or share how I feel. It’s something that hurts so deeply and you can never get it back.”

–Kahiau’s mom, Dané Sadang

Hannah’s mom, Charlene Brown urged the public to take the message to heart: “Please don’t drink and drive. It’s not worth it.”

“On Tuesday we’ll be celebrating Hannah’s 23rd birthday… Not only is it Thanksgiving, but it’s also Hannah’s birthday the same weekend. This is our annual family celebration weekend… We don’t do it any more because it’s not the same. We can’t have fun without her. It hurts too much. It feels like we’re doing something wrong… It’s painful enjoying something knowing that we’re missing a big chunk of our family. So think about that before you drink and drive… It’s not worth it. Let’s have a happy and safe holiday… Let’s be thankful for everyone,” said Charlene.

A photo of Hannah Brown was displayed as family members and community advocates launched an impaired driving awareness campaign ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. PC: Wendy Osher (11.23.22)

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