Practice Areas

Dana Ambrose's parents file suit against city

October 5, 2002

By David Waite, ADVERTISER COURTS WRITER

The parents of Dana Ambrose, who died after her car was broadsided by off-duty police officer Clyde Arakawa in October 2000, is suing the city, claiming Arakawa was allowed to continue driving his city-subsidized 1993 Ford Thunderbird despite a history of alcohol abuse.

Arakawa was sentenced in April to a 20-year prison term after he was found guilty of manslaughter in connection with Ambrose's death.

City spokeswoman Carol Costa said city Corporation Counsel David Arakawa had not been served with the lawsuit and would be unable to comment.

During the Arakawa trial earlier this year, city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle maintained that the off-duty officer was drunk and speeding and ran a red light before his 1993 Ford Thunderbird slammed into the 2000 Honda Civic driven by Ambrose at the intersection of School Street and Pali Highway.

According to the trial testimony, Arakawa drank steadily for about seven hours prior to the collision with Ambrose. Ambrose's parents have already reached a settlement with the two Ala Moana bars where Arakawa drank prior to the incident.

Carlisle also introduced evidence during the trial of Arakawa's 1992 conviction on a trespassing charge after he was found asleep - or passed out - on the floor of a stranger's house in Kailua after a night of drinking.

The prosecution used that case to try to establish that Arakawa was aware of what could happen as a result of his drinking and that he disregarded the risks of drunken driving the night of the fatal crash.

Arakawa's lawyer, Michael Ostendorp, argued during the trial that Arakawa was a seasoned drinker and had an "experienced liver" that was more efficient than normal at clearing alcohol from his system. He claimed that Arakawa was not drunk and was not speeding and that Ambrose ran a red light, causing her own death.

The lawsuit filed yesterday by attorney Eric Seitz on behalf of Rollie and Susan Ambrose asks for general and special damages with the amounts to be determined at trial.

Arakawa is also being sued personally in a lawsuit filed by attorney Rick Fried on behalf of the parents.

Arakawa had planned to retire at the time of the crash and later left the department.