WAILUKU - A 62-year-old Honokowai man was taken into custody Wednesday to serve a six-month jail term for a drunken collision last year that left a California woman with ongoing pain and life-altering injuries.
After hitting Karen Huston as she jogged on the side of Lower Honoapiilani Road at about 9 a.m. Oct. 11, 2009, Charles Garner didn't stop, said Deputy Prosecutor Iwalani Mountcastle.
"Had it not been for another witness and concerned citizen who saw the defendant strike Ms. Huston and followed the defendant to his place of employment, the defendant might have gotten away with this," Mountcastle said. "Ms. Huston was knocked unconscious and did not see much of what happened."
When police caught up with Garner, he was stumbling and had red watery eyes and other signs of being intoxicated, Mountcastle said.
His blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.235 percent, nearly three times the legal driving limit of 0.08 percent, Mountcastle said.
Garner had pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of the collision, first-degree negligent injury, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving without insurance.
As part of his sentence, Garner was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to attend at least five Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week while on five years' probation. He also was ordered to pay $61,199 in restitution and $1,669 in fines and fees. His driver's license was revoked.
Second Circuit Judge Joel August denied Garner's request for a chance to keep convictions off his record, noting that Garner was convicted of drunken driving and leaving the scene of a crash where someone was injured for a July 2003 incident in Idaho.
August said he had "a hard time understanding how something like this could happen twice in one's lifetime."
Garner said he had a rule of not driving if he had consumed more than three drinks and had left his truck and taken a taxi home from a birthday party two nights before the collision. He said he drank again the following night and went to bed before being awakened by someone returning his pickup truck.
He got up and drove the person home, Garner said. "It didn't even cross my mind I was drunk."
Garner said he hasn't had a drink since last November.
His attorney, William Sloper, said Garner "has finally gotten the message."
"Drinking is no longer going to be part of his life," Sloper said.
Garner apologized to Huston, who was in court Wednesday for the sentencing.
"I am totally sorry," he said. "People that know me know I would never hurt anybody intentionally."
The morning she was struck, at the start of a family vacation, "my life changed forever," Huston said.
For months afterward, she said she couldn't carry her 2-year-old son because of her injuries. She hasn't been able to play ice hockey, jog and practice yoga, she said, and lives in pain.
But Huston said there were also good things that came from what happened.
"I realized the true heartfelt generosity of true friends," she said. "I learned just how strong I could be. I was lucky. As bad as it was, it could have been worse."
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.