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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 22, 2006

Driver of stolen truck in fatal crash gets 10 years

Advertiser Staff

HILO, Hawai'i A Big Island man who fell asleep while driving a stolen truck and caused a crash in Hilo that killed another man was sentenced yesterday to up to 10 years in prison for the collision.

Travis Spencer, 26, tested positive for methamphetamine after he crossed the centerline of Hawai'i Belt Road fronting 'Alae Cemetery on Aug. 15, 2005, in a stolen 1990 Toyota pickup, and crashed into another truck.

Pepe'ekeo resident Judy Gamiao, 56, died of injuries suffered in the crash. A 15-year-old youth riding in Gamiao's truck suffered minor injuries.

Police found methamphetamine in the truck Spencer was driving, according to a statement released yesterday by Big Island Prosecutor Jay Kimura.

Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara sentenced Spencer yesterday to 10 years in prison for first-degree negligent homicide, five years in prison for third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, five years for unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, and five years for unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, according to Kimura's statement.

Hara ordered that Spencer serve those terms concurrently.

Spencer was on probation for a theft conviction at the time of the crash, and Hara also ordered that Spencer complete his five-year prison term for the theft conviction before he begins serving the new sentences Hara imposed in connection with the crash yesterday.

Studies show that motorists using methamphetamine typically cause collisions either because they drive aggressively or because they fall asleep, according to Kimura. Methamphetamine is a stimulant that can cause users to fall asleep abruptly at the end of a binge.