A new law means harsher penalties for anyone found guilty of negligent homicide and failing to render aid.
Kaulana’s Bill was born out of the blood, sweat and tears of the Werner ohana.
Paula and Ed Werner son, Kaulana, was killed in a hit-and-run accident.
“It’s heartbreaking but something bad is bringing forth something positive,” said Ed Werner as he choked back tears.
Authorities said Kaulana Werner was hit and his body was dragged by a vehicle traveling eastbound of Farrington Highway around 8:30 p.m. on April 24, 2016. Myisha-Lee Armitage, the person driving the vehicle, fled the scene. Authorities found her about a half mile down the road and arrested her.
Kaulana was just 19-years-old. He was home visiting from college when he was killed.
The Werner’s have been fighting for two years, seeking justice for their son. Today was a small win.
Governor David Ige signed Kaulana’s Bill into law. It allows courts to extend the maximum prison term from 10 years to 20 years for offenders convicted of first degree negligent homicide who fail to render aid.
“I’m signing Kaulana’s Bill in honor of Kaulana, his family and all the families who have tragically lost loved ones in this way,” Governor Ige said.
The bill is also meant to be a deterrent.
“Increasing imprisonment will make guys think twice drinking and driving,” explained Ed Werner.
“It’s been long overdue,” said Susan Ballard, Honolulu Chief of Police. “If it just saves one person’s life, then it’s done its job.”
Ken Lawson, a professor of law at UH Manoa said the law probably won’t prevent people from driving drunk.
“I don’t think it’s going to deter anybody from not committing (drunk driving), but I think it’s going to allow the court and the families and the victims so it will at least make them feel satisfied, feel that the justice system responded to the acts that the person did,” Lawson said.
The Werner’s see Kaulana’s Bill as a step in the right direction, but they are still waiting for closure.
“It’s a long journey,” said Paula Werner through her tears. “The pain, every day, waking up. (He was killed) right across the street from my home. I don’t want to be selfish, but I want justice for my son.”
Myisha-Lee Armitage pleaded not guilty to first degree negligent homicide. She is free on bail and has yet to stand trial.
Kaulana’s Bill goes into effect on July 1st. It is not retroactive, which means it will not help the Werner’s case.
Ed Werner said they did it to bring awareness to the issue and to make a difference for the future.