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Fatal collision nets Marine 1-year term

    Lorraine Gonzalez, left, spoke about her mother, Vicki Lynn Norman, during a sentencing hearing yesterday for Kaneohe Marine Eric Wycklendt, right. Norman was killed when Wycklendt crashed his troop transport vehicle head-on into her minivan in 2008. He was sentenced to a year in jail.
    Grace Kanakanui, center, watched with tears yesterday after Kaneohe Marine Eric Wycklendt, right, was sentenced in court for the death of a motorist in 2008.

A state judge sentenced a Kaneohe Marine to one year in jail yesterday for third-degree negligent homicide in the death of a motorist in 2008.

Pfc. Eric Wycklendt crashed a seven-ton military troop transport vehicle head-on into a minivan on Kamehameha Highway.

However, the judge is letting Wycklendt, 21, remain free for the next two months to give his lawyer the opportunity to argue for a lesser sentence.

One year is the maximum jail term for third-degree negligent homicide.

Wycklendt had asked for a deferral of his no-contest plea, which would have given him the opportunity to clear the charge from his criminal record.

Should Wycklendt ask for a reconsideration of his sentence, Circuit Judge Michael Wilson said he would like his lawyer to present information regarding Wycklendt’s training to operate the seven-ton vehicle, why he was driving the vehicle on Kamehameha Highway, whether he will continue to operate such vehicles, and regulations on operating such vehicles on public roadways.

"What continues to be a significant issue in this case is the continuing potential danger to the community for a seven-ton vehicle that may not be operated with proper training," Wilson said.

Wycklendt’s attorney, Noah Fiddler, said the then-19-year-old infantryman was driving the troop transport vehicle to the Kahuku Training Area from Kaneohe on Oct. 23, 2008, when he crossed the center line and crashed into Vicki Lynn Norman’s minivan. The 57-year-old mother of six died at the scene.

Witnesses reported seeing Wycklendt have difficulty negotiating his vehicle on the highway, especially around curves, either crossing the center line into the opposite lane of traffic or driving on the shoulder of the roadway, said Brian Kim, deputy prosecutor.

"He didn’t have control of the vehicle. The vehicle was simply just too big. He didn’t have the experience. Maybe he didn’t have the training," Kim said.

Fiddler said Wycklendt received 40 hours of training to operate the vehicle, including some time on the road.

Wycklendt pleaded no contest last May. He apologized to Norman’s friends and relatives who showed up for his sentencing yesterday.

"I wish to express to you all my deepest remorse, my deepest sympathy and my deepest condolences. It is my greatest hope that your family be granted peace and Vicki be granted peace and that she finds herself in a better place," Wycklendt said.

Norman’s oldest daughter, Lorraine Noelani Gonzalez, accepted Wycklendt’s apology.

"I appreciate that he did that," she said after the hearing.

She said she believes the apology was sincere, but she too would like to know more about Wycklendt’s training for driving the vehicle.

Gonzalez and her siblings are suing the government in federal court over their mother’s death.


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