Ridge Alkonis, a U.S. Navy lieutenant, stationed in Japan, planned a springtime vacation to Mount Fuji with his wife and three children as a fun and relaxing family outing before an impending deployment.
What transpired after it, and why, is a point of contention. However, it resulted in a three-year prison sentence.
According to Alkonis' family and allies, the naval lieutenant passed out in the car and slumped over behind the wheel due to intense altitude sickness. Prosecutors in Japan and the judge who condemned him claim he fell asleep while driving while fatigued, obstructing his obligation to pull over right away.
Regardless of the reason, Alkonis' automobile swerved into parked cars and pedestrians in a parking lot, killing an elderly mother and her son-in-law. With Alkonis' appeal of his prison sentence set to be heard in a Japanese court on Wednesday, his parents are begging for mercy for an act they claim was nothing more than a sad accident but which prosecutors see as lethal negligence.
During an accident, the first thought that springs to mind are treating the victim adequately, as stated by Alkonis' father, Derek Alkonis of Dana Point, California. Unlike our experience, this has not always been the case. Our kid was sentenced to three years for an accident, which worries us."
Since court records acquired by The Associated Press were suppressed, identifying the victims' families was impossible.
The impending hearing is the latest move in the case against Alkonis, 34, undersea warfare and acoustic engineering expert. They served in the Japanese navy for nearly seven years as a civilian volunteer.
According to the family, Alkonis' counsel persuaded them to cooperate, plead guilty, and pay restitution to the victims' families, which they did by signing a $1.65 million settlement, with nearly half of the funds coming from savings and friends and relatives.
Those who make awful mistakes are spared mercy, she explained. "Ridge has spent his entire life trying to make good decisions, and we think he deserves a little leniency.