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Man accused in crash to return

Wallace Kekoa, center

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Wallace Kekoa, center, said yesterday that an indictment against Nicholas Tudisco will help his family begin to cope with the loss of his wife Elizabeth Kekoa, killed in a 2001 crash. Also at the news conference were Elizabeth's brother Willie Davis, left, and attorney Wayne Kekina.

The driver allegedly was in a race that led to a teacher's death

By Debra Barayuga

dbarayuga@starbulletin.com

A former Hawaii Kai resident indicted this week for allegedly racing on the H-1 freeway and causing the death of teacher Elizabeth Kekoa nearly 2 1/2 years ago is expected to waive extradition and return to Hawaii to face the charge, his attorney said.

But Michael Green, who represents Nicholas Tudisco, said the $100,000 bail ordered by a judge is excessive, and he will ask the court to reduce it.

Tudisco, who plays baseball at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, was indicted Wednesday for manslaughter in the Aug. 26, 2001, crash. He was suspended from the baseball team after the criminal charge was made public, Green said.

Tudisco, then 18, was the driver of a car that prosecutors say was racing more than 100 mph Koko Head-bound on the H-1 when he allegedly lost control near the 6th Avenue offramp, struck a median and then slammed into a van carrying Kekoa, her husband and her elderly mother.

Wallace Kekoa, who was driving, and Rose Davis were injured but survived.

Green said he will discuss with Tudisco a date when he will be able to return to face the charge.

"He's still in college, and we're trying to work it out when he can come home," he said.

Green was expected to file a motion to reduce the $100,000 bail requested by prosecutors, saying Tudisco is not a flight risk.

"He waited for over a year for charges (that never came), and now he's in college playing baseball. He's no threat to run away, and they know that," Green said. "To me it's just sensationalism."

Deputy Prosecutor Sharlene Tom said the bail amount is standard in cases where a defendant must be extradited.

"This is a Class A felony. He's not here, so we always ask for bail in this amount if we have to extradite them," Tom said.

Kekoa's brother and husband said yesterday they were elated with the grand jury's decision and believe that they can begin putting some closure on their loss.

"Yes, it's been a long time coming, and we appreciate all the investigators, I know, worked very hard in presenting the results," said Willie Davis, brother of Elizabeth Kekoa.

The family does not fault the length of time it took for police and investigators to wrap up the investigation, he said.

"I told my family I want to make sure investigators cover all details of the accident and make sure there's no loopholes, however long it takes, and I'm happy it (finally) came," Davis said.

As for Tudisco, "We just want him to be made accountable for what he did," Davis said.

Kekoa was the heart of her family, and everyone, especially her mother, misses her terribly, he said.

Wallace Kekoa, who was married to Kekoa for more than 39 years, said he misses his wife especially when he goes to church "because we always at the church."

His wife taught Sunday school, and at Holy Trinity School she taught religion to third- and fourth-graders. When his wife was alive, they had lunch together every day, and he helped her out at the school and did errands for her.

The family was torn apart and became homeless after Kekoa was killed, said attorney Wayne Kekina, who represents the Kekoas in one of two civil suits against Nicholas Tudisco and his parents, Michael and Cynthia.

Elizabeth Kekoa was the breadwinner of the family, and after her death they lost their home because they could not pay the mortgage, Kekina said.

Husband Wallace now lives in Kaneohe, where he is a caregiver for a family friend. Rose Davis lives with one of her sons in Kapolei. The two Kekoa children, now adults, live with friends.

Kekina asked for the public's help yesterday in identifying the unidentified drivers who were part of the group that Tudisco was with that night.