Evening in Lihue, on Kaua’i. A truck comes out of nowhere.
After the wreck, Tania Perneel was a little confused. She thought the guy helping her was the driver that had hit her car. She noticed a blue truck driving away – even noticed its pink bumper sticker – but didn’t realize it had anything to do with the accident.
When she figured out later that the blue truck was probably the hit-and-run vehicle that totaled her Fiesta and left her with hand, ankle, and back injuries, she told police. They weren’t impressed. They said it was unlikely that the driver would be ever be caught.
When Perneel went to get her things out of her wrecked Fiesta (I suppose this was after they put screws in her ankle), she spotted a tow loop embedded in the engine. The tow loop (also called a tow hook) was not from her car.
She took it to a car parts dealer, who identified it as one of the 2 tow loops on the front end of a Dodge Dakota. (I want this part to be played by Marisa Tomei. In fact, I want all parts to be played by Marisa Tomei.)
One Friday a couple weeks later, stuck in rush-hour traffic, she glimpsed a blue truck with a pink bumper sticker – parked outside a body shop. On Monday she returned, and crawled under the truck – AHA! AHA! A-FRACKING-HA! ONE TOW LOOP IS MISSING!! The rust marks matched rust marks on the loop Perneel had found in her engine.
Back to the police, who now sprang into action like mighty jungle cats. They looked up the registration. Eventually they charged Jennifer Tabura, 23-year-old daughter of the owner, with second-degree negligent injury. Tabura pleaded no contest.
At trial, the public defender said Tabura had been motivated by panic. “She basically freaked out, went home and didn’t tell her parents.”
Tabura made a statement in court. She said her decision had caused her pain. She wanted to tell the victim how how sorry she was. She added that she felt more distress on learning of Perneel’s injuries, and wanted to apologize. “I will never do anything like that again.”
Tabura was ordered to pay the part of Perneel’s car loan that wasn’t covered by insurance. ($3,608. Dang.) She was given felony probation and ordered not to drive for a year.
Afterward, outside, Perneel told Tabura she accepted her apology. They hugged. They cried. Perneel told Tabura, “I am not mad at you. I am mad at what happened, and wanted you to accept responsibility.”
I wish Tom LaVenture’s commendable account in The Garden Island had more details on Tabura’s apology. It sounds too much about her – but maybe those are the parts that stood out and got reported – because it’s so annoying when people harp on how they suffered because of what they did to others. She did, belatedly, take responsibility. She did make (court-ordered) amends. She did pledge never to do it again.
The apology worked for Perneel, and she’s the person who counts. She’s also the detective who wouldn’t take “there’s nothing we can do” for an answer. She tracked down the miscreant, got her apprehended, got recompensed, and forgave.
That aloha spirit is strong stuff.