WAILUKU - A Kahului man was given a chance to keep convictions off his record for a vehicle crash that his attorney said was caused by "a moment's inattention."
"A moment's inattention can have life-changing effects," said Deputy Public Defender Adriel Menor. "This was a tragic accident."
Menor represented 21-year-old Wereloe Baluran, who had pleaded no contest to charges of first- and second-degree negligent injury in the July 11, 2010, crash.
At 7:10 p.m. that day, Baluran was driving a Nissan Pathfinder in the Wailuku direction on Hana Highway when he went through a red light at Dairy Road in Kahului, colliding with a Jeep that was heading south through a green light, said Deputy Prosecutor Mark Simonds. He said a woman in the rear seat was ejected when the Pathfinder rolled over, landing on its left side.
Baluran told police that he had turned to his passenger while driving and "when he looked back, it was too late," Simonds said.
The tourists in the Jeep weren't injured. But the woman ejected from the Pathfinder suffered a skull fracture and impairment to her left eye, Simonds said. He said she and Baluran remain friends. "She's very forgiving," Simonds said.
He said another woman in the Pathfinder also was injured.
Baluran wasn't impaired at the time of the crash, attorneys said.
Menor said Baluran, who has no criminal record, had assumed responsibilities of helping take care of his younger siblings after their father's death.
"Wereloe put his life on hold, essentially, so he could enter the workforce and provide financial support for his family," Menor said during Baluran's sentencing Tuesday. "He's a good kid. It was just a really tragic accident that day."
Saying Baluran had done positive things in his life, 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza granted Baluran's request to keep the convictions off his record if he follows court requirements for five years. Baluran was ordered to pay $5,494 in restitution for injuries to one passenger.
An insurance payment was made to the other passenger, Simonds said.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.