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Makaha hit-and-run suspect charged with negligent homicide

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 3:50 a.m. HST, Mar 31, 2012

The man accused of driving the car that plowed into a Makaha bus shelter Wednesday night, killing a 3-year-old boy and injuring his mom and three of his siblings before fleeing, has been charged.

Lualualei resident Potasi S. Uta Jr., 44, was charged Friday night with first-degree negligent homicide, two counts of first-degree negligent injury and failure to render aid.

He is being held at the Honolulu Police Department cellblock on Alapai Street on $100,000 bail.

Police said that at about 10:20 p.m. Thursday, Uta's Honda sedan was Honolulu-bound when it veered off Farrington Highway and crashed into the wooden shelter, killing Ashton Brown instantly. Paramedics took to the Queen's Medical Center a sister, 11, in critical condition with leg and head injuries; his mother, 41, in guarded condition; a brother, 7, in serious condition; and a girl, 5, in serious condition.

The driver left the scene but patrol officers stopped the badly damaged vehicle about two miles away near the Makaha 7-Eleven, police said.

Uta was paroled March 20 from the Laumaka Work Furlough Center at Oahu Community Correctional Center.

Court records show Uta has six felony convictions and six misdemeanor convictions, including a 1986 conviction for drunken driving, car theft and criminal property damage on Maui. He was sentenced to five years in prison. In 2004, he was sentenced to a 10-year jail term for first-degree burglary and was placed on parole. He was sent back to prison in 2008 for violating his parole.

A Department of Public Safety official said Uta had met with his parole officer Tuesday and passed all his drug tests.

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