Michael Pagelsdorf was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the 2011 traffic crash that caused the death of a 14-month-old infant, according to the Kauai prosecuting attorney.
The sentence was handed down on Jan. 30.
Pagelsdorf, 30 of Lihue, pleaded guilty to Negligent Homicide in the First Degree, a class B felony, and was ordered by Circuit Court Judge Kathleen N.A. Watanabe to immediately begin serving his sentence.
The state was represented by First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kevin K. Takata.
On Feb. 20, 2011, Pagelsdorf was driving eastbound on Kaumualii Highway in Lihue, in bumper-to-bumper afternoon traffic, with the infant in his lap. He looked down for a second and when he looked up, he was unable to stop his vehicle from crashing into the vehicle that was stopped in front of him. The airbag in Pagelsdorf’s vehicle deployed, causing fatal injuries to the infant.
Pagelsdorf had methamphetamine and marijuana in his blood at the time of the crash and was driving on a suspended license.
"This was a terrible tragedy, and one that was completely avoidable," said Prosecuting Attorney Justin F. Kollar. "Mr. Pagelsdorf made the conscious decision to remove the infant from the child safety seat, and he will have to live with the consequences of that decision for the rest of his life. My hope is that others learn from this mistake and avoid repeating it."
Kauai Police Sgt. Jason Overmyer, of the department's Traffic Safety Section, reminded the public of the importance of properly securing children in child safety seats.
"Even in a slow-speed crash like this one, airbags deploy with tremendous speed and force and can cause serious, even fatal injuries," states Sgt. Overmyer. "We urge the public to follow the law and use the correct seats and seatbelts in the proper manner so that this never happens again in our community."