WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — A U.S. Navy lieutenant living in Japan has been sentenced to three years in prison after killing two people and severely injuring a third in a car accident that he and his family say was caused by a medical emergency.
In May 2021, Lt. Ridge Alkonis was driving with his wife and children when he lost consciousness and control of his car, which drifted and crashed, killing an 85-year-old woman and her son-in-law, according to Alkonis’ family.
The 34-year-old said he was struck with a case of altitude sickness which was supported by a neurologist’s diagnosis, but a panel of three Japanese judges said it was unlikely and maintained he fell asleep and should’ve pulled over. Alkonis agreed to pay the victims’ families $1.6 million but the panel still decided to sentence him.
Alkonis’ family says he doesn’t belong behind bars and is now desperately calling on the White House to help bring him home. His wife, Brittany, is calling on President Joe Biden to join U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel’s efforts to get her husband back to America after their appeal was shut down, The Daily Mail reported.
“I feel like we kind of hit the ceiling here,” Brittany told Fox & Friends on Tuesday morning. “Other than Rahm Emanuel who we had a conversation with and I’m hopeful he can help, but we need the White House as well.”
Members of Congress have expressed support and shared Alkonis’ story, hoping to elevate this case.
“They continue to float the false narrative that they fell asleep while driving as a result of his own carelessness, or recklessness. that simply is not true,” Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee said about the Japanese judges who sentenced Alkonis.
Alkonis’ family said they’re grateful for the pressure lawmakers are putting on Japan, but believe it’ll take the White House stepping up and handling this for him to be brought home.