A US Navy officer is facing prison in Japan for a fatal crash.

Ridge Alkonis, a U.S. Navy lieutenant who lives in Japan, took a springtime trip to Mount Fuji with his wife and children. It was meant as a fun and leisurely family vacation before he had to deploy.

A US Navy officer is facing prison in Japan for a fatal crash.

Ridge Alkonis, a U.S. Navy lieutenant who lives in Japan, took a springtime trip to Mount Fuji with his wife and children. It was meant as a fun and leisurely family vacation before he had to deploy.

It is still unclear what happened next and why. It led to a three year sentence in prison.

Alkonis' family members and supporters claim that the naval officer lost consciousness suddenly in the car. He then fell asleep behind the wheel due to acute mountain sickness. The Japanese prosecutor and the judge who sentenced him claim that he fell asleep while being drowsy and omitted the duty to pull over right away.

Alkonis' car crashed into pedestrians and parked cars in a parking lot. The accident left a woman and her son, who later died, with no explanation. Alkonis is due to be appealed by a Japanese court on Wednesday. His parents have pleaded for leniency because their son was involved in a horrible accident that they claim was not serious but which prosecutors consider deadly negligence. He is currently in Japan while he appeals.

A US Navy officer is facing prison in Japan for a fatal crash.

By ERIC TUCKER

Today

Derek and Suzi Alkonis are seen with a photo taken of their son Lt. Ridge Alkonis, a U.S Navy lieutenant in Japan. The photo was taken on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 in Dana Point. Alkonis' family claims that he was suffering from severe mountain-sickness, and that he fell asleep behind the wheel. Japanese prosecutors and a judge claim that he felt drowsy and should've pulled over. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

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Derek and Suzi Alkonis are seen with a photo taken of their son, Lt. Ridge Alkonis, on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 in Dana Point. The photo was taken in Dana Point, Calif., where the couple were posing with a photo. This is their son, a U.S. Navy lieutenant serving in Japan. He is facing a possible three-year sentence for a fatal car accident that resulted in two deaths last year. Alkonis' family claims that he was suffering from severe mountain-sickness, and that he fell asleep behind the wheel. Japanese prosecutors and a judge claim that he felt drowsy and should've pulled over. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

WASHINGTON (AP), -- Ridge Alkonis, U.S. Navy lieutenant, was planning a springtime trip to Mount Fuji with his wife and children before he is deployed.

It is still unclear what happened next and why. It led to a three year sentence in prison.

Alkonis' family members and supporters claim that the naval officer lost consciousness suddenly in the car. He then fell asleep behind the wheel due to acute mountain sickness. The Japanese prosecutor and the judge who sentenced him claim that he fell asleep while being drowsy and omitted the duty to pull over right away.

Alkonis' car crashed into pedestrians and parked cars in a parking lot. The accident left a woman and her son, who later died, with no explanation. Alkonis is due to be appealed by a Japanese court on Wednesday. His parents have pleaded for leniency because their son was involved in a horrible accident that they claim was not serious but which prosecutors consider deadly negligence. He is currently in Japan while he appeals.

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"Fairness is the word that comes to mind," said Alkonis' father, Derek Alkonis. "We want him to receive fair treatment for an accident," stated Alkonis' father Derek Alkonis of Dana Point in California. We don't believe it has been that way. It hasn't been that. It is concerning that our son was sentenced to three years in prison for an accident.

The Associated Press could not contact the families of victims because their names were redacted in court records that were reviewed by The AP.

This hearing marks the latest development in Alkonis' case. Alkonis, 34 is a specialist in underwater warfare and acoustic engine who spent almost seven years in Japan as both a civilian volunteer or naval officer.

After a period of land-based assignments in the fall of 2021, the native of Southern California was ready for a deployment as a head of department on the USS Benfold. This missile destroyer was due to arrive at the coast of spring 2021.

His family embarked on a Mount Fuji sightseeing and hiking excursion on May 29, 2021 as the assignment was imminent.

After climbing a small portion of the mountain, they were heading back to the car for lunch and ice cream at the foot of Mount Fuji. Alkonis was speaking with his 7-year-old daughter when he fell asleep behind the wheel. They say he was so disoriented that neither his daughter's screams nor the impact of collisions got him up.

According to a family spokesperson, Alkonis was taken into custody by Japanese authorities after the accident near Fujinomiya. He was held in isolation at a detention facility for 26 days. According to the statement, Alkonis was already being held by the Japanese when American authorities arrived to arrest him and return him to an American base.

He was charged with negligent driving, which resulted in his death. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment last October. Japan can sentence him to up to seven years in prison. He appealed.

The AP has obtained English-language court records from the AP. They show that the judge was skeptical about the mountain sickness claim. He cited an initial statement by Alkonis to police, in which he stated that he felt drowsy after driving along mountainous roads.

Later, he testified that he felt sudden mountain sickness. This was supported by a June 2021 diagnosis from a neuroologist. However, the judge stated that such a sensation should have subsided as Alkonis drove downhill.

Alkonis could have been suffering from light mountain sickness. However, the judge stated that it was possible. It was hard to imagine him suddenly becoming incapacitated.

A Navy spokesperson stated that Alkonis is still on active duty, and that the Navy has provided his family with the support and care they need.

This case is being played against the backdrop of Japan's long-standing concerns about the bad behavior of the thousands of U.S. military personnel in Japan and the perception that they are given preferential treatment. A 2014 AP investigation revealed that most of the U.S. military personnel in Japan found guilty in sex offenses in recent years didn't go to prison. Instead, they were routinely demotions, fines, or removed from their military posts.

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