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Widower of crash victim sues teen driver, parents

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

By Leila Fujimori

lfujimori@starbulletin.com

The husband of a 58-year-old schoolteacher killed in a two-vehicle collision with a teenager who was allegedly racing on the H-1 freeway sued the driver and his parents for negligence yesterday.

Elizabeth Kekoa, a religion teacher at Holy Trinity School, was with her husband and mother as they headed to the school before dawn Aug. 26 to help set up that day's church services. Husband Wallace Kekoa was driving the van while Elizabeth was a front-seat passenger.

The lawsuit alleges that 18-year-old Nicholas Tudisco was speeding in a souped-up 1999 Honda Prelude when he lost control, hit the median and crashed into the Kekoas' Ford Aerostar van in the Koko Head-bound lanes of the freeway between the South King Street and the 6th Avenue offramps.

Kekoa's husband and her 71-year-old mother were injured in the crash, with her mother initially listed in critical condition.

The Honda was modified with high-performance parts, which did not have the required state permits, the suit contends.

Although Tudisco was an adult at the time of the accident, the suit alleges Tudisco's parents, Michael and Cynthia Tudisco, leased the Prelude and should have had control of the car and known of the illegal high-performance modifications.

Police had estimated the Honda's speed at close to 100 mph. Police arrested Nicholas Tudisco for negligent homicide shortly after the accident, then released him without charges. The case is still pending investigation.

Police said in the days after the accident that they had a witness who claimed to have seen at least two vehicles racing on the freeway.

Tudisco's attorney, Michael Green, could not be reached for comment.

Kekoa's attorney, Wayne Kekina, said he is also pursuing all individuals involved in any racing or speeding before the collision.

"All the other parties that raced with Tudisco are responsible for participating," Kekina said.

He said drivers who race or speed together on public roads are liable under a legal theory of "joint enterprise" and are considered just as responsible as those who actually crash into innocent victims and cause injury.