On the night of Aug. 22, 2010, Michael Patrick Keating was drinking at the Cantina Lounge in Fullerton with two female friends, Mai Hayakawa and Alyssa Unruh. Hayakawa was a recent Cal State Fullerton graduate, majoring in theater.
According to a release from the Orange County District Attorney’s office, the group left the bar, with Keating, 24, driving, Hayakawa, 22, in the front passenger seat and Unrah, 21, in the back seat.
At about 11:18 p.m., Keating headed southbound on California State Route 57. He entered the connector to the westbound California State Route 91 and lost control of his black 2003 Toyota Celica. The car veered off the side of the road, down an embankment and hit a palm tree.
Before the clock struck midnight, Unruh was at the UCI Medical Center being treated for minor injuries, and Keating, who suffered a neck injury, was facing charges of a felony for drunken driving and Hayakawa was dead.
Two families’ lives were impacted and changed irreversibly. The emotional trauma in this situation often includes unbearable feelings of loss and sorrow, as well as remorse and guilt. There are many victims on a variable scale of poignant levels.
Keating was charged with one count each of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated. He was also charged with driving under the influence, causing bodily injury and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more and causing bodily injury with a sentencing enhancement allegation for causing bodily injury and death to more than one victim, according to a release from the Orange County District Attorneyâ€™s office.
About 31 percent of the 3,081 people killed in automobile accidents in California had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC), by weight, over the legal limit of .08.
BAC is expressed in percentage of alcohol to blood. This limit is set in Section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code.
The statistics for DUI-related fatalities and those involving severe injury in the area surrounding Cal State Fullerton are distressing.
“Our officers actively patrol out to one mile radius of the campus and initiate enforcement stops that result in DUI arrests,” said Lt. John Brockie of the CSUF University Police. “In 2009 the University Police made 131 DUI arrests. None of the arrests were on campus; all of them were in the surrounding area.”
The Fullerton Police Department made 984 DUI arrests in 2009. They also reported 38 DUI-related collisions with injuries and 117 without, said Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.
Two of those accidents included six fatalities including the collision that killed Angel’s rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart, 22; sports agent Henry Pearson, 25; and CSUF student Courtney Stewart, 20.
DUI statistics aside, the incidents themselves directly affect families and friends, especially when lives are lost.
In the orange garb of the Orange County Men’s Jail, Keating sat in the prisoner’s cage in the jail’s courtroom on Monday, Nov. 22 for his arraignment. Keating sat on bench, head down and hands crossed in his lap, as the judge set his bail at $500,000.
Keating’s father, Patrick, sat outside in the visitor’s room watching the closed-circuit television, waiting anxiously for his son’s appearance. The judge had set a bail review and the pre-trial hearing for two days later.
The concerned and astonished father walked down the courthouse hallway. In a trembling voice, Patrick said he was not prepared for the bail set by the judge. His next stop was to meet with his son’s defense attorney, Lloyd Freeberg.
Patrick hoped Freeberg could negotiate a lower bail amount because he didn’t know how they could come up with the amount that would be required to obtain a bail bond.
“He is very remorseful about what happened. He’s had trouble sleeping from pain and has been walking and attending AA meetings,” Patrick said about his son. “His friends were mutual friends (with Hayakawa) who said they’ve already lost one friendâ€”they didn’t want to lose Michael too.”
Patrick had come from his home in Oklahoma where he and his wife had relocated from Fullerton to care for elderly parents. His wife was not able to be with her family because she had recently undergone a chemotherapy treatment. Patrick said his son stayed in Fullerton where he was a student at CSUF majoring in Japanese studies.
“I tried to get (Michael) into Woodglen Recovery [a rehabilitation facility],” Patrick said. “But because he had to wear a Halo device [to support his cervical injury] for 12 weeks, he couldn’t get in.”
On one hand, Michael Keatingâ€™s parents have been plunged into an unimaginable situation, concerned for their sonâ€™s future. On the other hand, the mother and father of Mai Hayakawa suffered the finality of the death of a child and sister, the loss of her closest ally.
“The death of Mai has been debilitating to both my parents. Life is no longer the same without her, as she completed our family dynamic,” said Cathy Hayakawa, Mai’s sister. “The pain they are experiencing is indescribable and nobody should ever have to experience anything like this. Life will never be the same without Mai.”
Cathy said she and her sister were planning a trip to Japan to visit their grandmother, who was ill with cancer. Their scheduled departure was only three days after Hayakawa died.
“I’ve lost my best friend,” Cathy said. “Mai and I have many inside jokes from shared experiences and I cannot begin to describe how empty I feel without hearing from her for over three months.”
While she was at CSUF, Hayakawa’s theater emphasis was directing. She survived the department’s cut in her junior year, one out of five who auditioned. She was also a musician, a violinist who opened for Reba McEntire’s performance at the Honda Center in 2009.
Hayakawa was also an actor, singer and dancer, cast in “Miss Saigon” at CSUF. For those performances, she also played the shamisen, a traditional and unique Japanese instrument.
In the role of playwright, Hayakawa composed a satire, “Peter Chan,” which her sister describes as brilliant.
“Her accomplishments and artistic talent have been recognized by the State of California, and we have received a recognition letter by a State Senator,” Cathy said.
Hayakawaâ€™s family told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that on the night of the accident, she was meeting with her theater group. Her family said she met with the group several times a week and often went to dinner following meetings.
Hayakawa lived in Diamond Bar. She had worked at her family’s restaurant, Restaurant Hayakawa in Covina, since high school.
Her sister added that the long-term restaurant patrons had watched the sisters growing up.
“Mai worked primarily on the weekends at the restaurant and she was an integral figure at the restaurant,” Cathy said. “Her personality was intriguing and she became quick friends with so many of the restaurant patrons.”
Hayakawaâ€™s family and friends celebrated her life in a memorial tribute held at CSUF’s Claves Performing Arts Center on Sept. 2, followed by an outdoor candlelight vigil. Her sister said over 500 people attended her funeral with over 100 at the vigil.
Cathy said many of Hayakawaâ€™s friends have been visiting the restaurant and sharing the grief with her parents. A memorial rose garden has been planted next to the restaurant. It’s a place where Hayakawaâ€™s friends can reflect. Her friends have also made a tribute page on the social network Facebook.
“Mai and Michael were amazing friends, which makes the situation infinitely more tragic,” said a mutual friend of both Mai and Michael. “Those who know Mike know that he would have died to protect her, and the accident has put him through hell.”
EDUCATING THE PUBLIC AND SERVING THE COMMUNITY
To curb DUI tragedies, local police agencies use different methods to educate the community about the dangers of driving while impaired.
In the one-year period between Oct. 2009 and Oct. 2010, the California Highway Patrol set out to reduce the number of alcohol-involved fatal and injury collisions and victims.
The federally-funded Border-to-Border DUI Enforcement Campaign conducted nearly 240 sobriety/drivers license checkpoints and an assortment of DUI task force operations including 50,000 hours of proactive DUI enforcement patrol. This resulted in 1,900 DUI arrests, per a press release of Oct. 4, 2010.
“All of these DUI enforcement efforts serve three major purposes: deterrence, removal of impaired drivers from the road, and educating the motoring public,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow in a press release. “They are all valuable tools used by law enforcement to combat impaired driving.”
Goodrich said the Fullerton Police Department has sobriety checkpoints about once a quarter.
“Their purpose is not always to arrest impaired drivers,” Goodrich said. “They hand out literature. It’s more of a public-awareness campaign.”
Within the CSUF campus and community, the University Police have participated in campaigns such as Brea’s Avoid the 10 and the university’s Titan Up the Party, as well as other awareness programs.
“We have had Santa Ana (Police Department) on campus with their DUI awareness interactive trailer, provided alcohol safety presentations for different groups on campus, and partnered with the Health Center,” Brockie said. “We are currently participating in a countywide DUI campaign.”
Although campus fraternities and sororities are housed off campus, the CSUF police work closely with the Dean of Students and the Fullerton police. The University Police also provide alcohol awareness, general safety and sexual assault information to the Greek community, Brockie said.