Crash suspect's family pledge support for toddler's family

Family of Potasi Uta, Jr. are planning fundraiser for 3-year-old victim's family

 UPDATED 4:21 PM HST Apr 03, 2012
Layer & Potasi Uta Jr.
HONOLULU -

Family members of Potasi Uta Jr. gathered at District Court for the 44-year-old's first court appearance in tears as they described him as a loving father, brother and uncle.

Uta's older sister said her brother had just been paroled and was at her birthday party on the night of the crash.

"It's heartbreaking because he was headed for a good life," Uta said.

The family expressed grief for 3-year-old Ashton Brown, and have a message for the Brown family.

"You have now become family and we're here for you with open arms," said Esther Willets, niece of the crash suspect.

Police said Uta was driving a car that went off Farrington Highway in Makaha about 10:30 last Wednesday and hit several members of the Brown family, who were sitting at a bus stop.

He is charged with negligent homicide, negligent injury and failure to render aid.

In court documents, an officer who pulled over Uta down the road near the Makaha 7-Eleven said he could detect a "strong odor resembling that of an alcoholic type beverage."  The officer also noticed that Uta's "eyes were red and glassy and he had a red, flushed face.  Uta Jr. was mumbling and had slurred speech."

The documents also said Uta "refused to cooperate and provide mandatory blood samples so he had to be physically restrained by officers," so blood could be drawn.

Uta's family members said they are setting up a fundraiser to help Ashton Brown's family with funeral costs. The family claims they are tight-knit and are trying to cope with an unfortunate situation the best way possible.

"Something like this is not gonna tear us a part, it'll only bring us closer," Uta said.

The Brown Family was homeless at the time of the crash. The Uta family says it is opening up a benefit account at a local bank to help the Brown family get permanent housing.

The fund is called The Brown Family Memorial Fund at Bank of Hawaii.  You can donate to the Brown family at any Bank of Hawaii location.

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