LIHU‘E — The Lawa‘i man, who caused a deadly Christmas Eve collision, has taken a plea deal.
Sandon Igne, 33, appeared in Lihu‘e Circuit Court on Tuesday, where he pleaded no contest to two counts of negligent homicide, two counts of negligent injury, and one count of inattention to driving.
In exchange, several charges against him were dropped, including two counts of manslaughter — Class A felonies, which carry with them maximum penalties of 10 years in prison.
According to court and police documents, on Dec. 24, 2020, Igne drove his car southbound down Kaumuali‘i Highway after drinking at Rob’s Good Times Grill in Lihu‘e. Near Knudsen Gap, he veered onto the right shoulder and swerved back perpendicular to the road, crossing the center line to collide with an oncoming Nissan sedan driven by a teenager.
The sedan was carrying three passengers, including 49-year-old Hanama‘ulu resident Eugenia Villanueva and 71-year-old Ele‘ele man Delfin Geronimo, both of whom died as a result of injuries from the crash. The driver, Raiden Pagatpatan, and the other passenger, Jenny Villanueva, both suffered nonfatal injuries. Pagatpatan was 19 at the time of the crash.
According to the Kaua‘i Police Department accident report, Igne had a blood-alcohol level of 0.133 percent, which was over the state legal limit of 0.08 percent. He also tested positive for the presence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Prosecutors reported that Igne had no adult criminal record at the time.
Igne wore a face mask on Tuesday, as he confirmed for Judge Catherine Remigio that he fully understood the plea deal and agreed to it of his own volition.
The gallery was crowded with members of his family seated on the left side and the families of the crash victims on the right. Mark Zenger served as Igne’s attorney, while Deputy Prosecutor Ramsey Ross represented the state.
With the deal, Igne’s prison sentence is now at the discretion of Remigio, who appeared in court via Zoom on Tuesday.
“The worst case scenario would be if I gave you the maximum term for each of these charges and stacked them on top of each other,” said Remigio.
That would come out to 22 years and six months, 10 years for each of the negligent homicide charges, one year for each negligent injury charge and six months for inattention to driving, based on state sentencing guidelines. Prior to the plea deal, Igne could have faced a maximum of 42 years and six months.
Remigio could also determine that terms are served at the same time, in which case the maximum jail time would be 10 years.
“There’s a big difference between your best-case scenario and your worst-case scenario,” she continued.
Igne could also face a maximum fine of $55,000, and will be required to pay restitution to the victims as determined at a future hearing.
Zenger, on Igne’s behalf, declined to comment on the deal.
The crash has also led to a civil suit, which requests damages from both Igne and Nissan. The suit describes Igne’s actions as “negligent, grossly negligent, careless, reckless and wanton,” while also arguing a lack of safety features in the backseats of the Nissan sedan contributed to Geronimo and Villanueva’s deaths.
Igne’s sentencing is tentatively set for March 15, 2023.
Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island