Maui News

Woman Sentenced in Deadly 2019 Drunk Driving Crash that Claimed Life of Maui Teen

By Wendy Osher
September 28, 2021, 6:36 AM HST
* Updated September 29, 5:26 AM
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Lynsey Jio. Courtesy photos.

A woman convicted of manslaughter in the death of a 19-year-old Maui girl in a drunk driving crash on the Kūihelani Highway two years ago, was sentenced to 10 years of probation and a two year jail term as a condition of that probation. Upon release from custody, Lynsey Jio must work for eight years of her probation doing 2,000 hours of community service, under a plea agreement.

Jio was charged with manslaughter, operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant, excessive speeding and reckless driving for the June 23, 2019 crash that killed Hannah Brown. Jio was driving the wrong way on the highway when she crashed head-on into the 2003 Honda Civic in which Hannah was a passenger.

If she violates any of the terms and conditions of probation, Jio is subject to the 20 year prison sentence. She must also refrain from using alcohol and any illegal or illicit drugs, and is subject to substance abuse assessments and treatment as directed by the probation department.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Peter Cahill also imposed a discretionary lifetime revocation of Jio’s driver’s license. “The reason is very simple. The law says you can’t have a firearm if you’re a convicted felon. Well, I have a person convicted of manslaughter in which they killed another person. I’m going to take away–in so far as possible–the weapon that was used to kill that person, and that’s the vehicle.”

Jio must also continue with mental health care and serve thousands of hours of community service, as agreed to by the parties. In November of 2023, a status hearing will be held upon her release from custody.

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“Two-thousand hours is a lot of time–it’s a lot and it’s not enough,” said Judge Cahill. “In two years Lynsey gets to go home to her parents, and you (Charlene and Everett Brown) will go home tonight and Hannah won’t be there. She won’t be there in her physical presence–and that is the portion of the sentence that the court doesn’t agree with–is the foreverness of somebody dying,” said Judge Cahill.

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Charlene Brown, Hannah’s mom spoke during the sentencing hearing on Monday, reflecting upon the loss of her daughter.

“That morning, we were supposed to plan my 40th birthday that was coming up in just a week. Instead, I was planning my daughter’s funeral,” she said. “Over the past two years and three months, I have not been the same person. I cry every day, wishing to see my daughter and hold her. I watch my husband mourn, but he tries so hard to stay strong for us. We don’t eat right, we don’t sleep right. Our lives have been ruined. The only reason why we keep moving is because we have our two sons.”

Charlene Brown said that when Hannah was killed, she and her two sons lost their best friend, and her husband lost his ‘baby girl.’ “My husband will never walk her down the isle. You still have life after this. The crash has taken so much from us and we continue to suffer, but you will only spend two years in jail. Your family can see you when they want to and in two years you get to go home. Hannah’s not coming home. We had to move out of our house because every day I would hope she would come walking down that driveway and tell me ‘It was all a joke mom. It was a nightmare. Wake up. Here I am,’ with that beautiful smile that she could light up a room with.”

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“You destroyed our lives and we will never be the same,” said Charlene Brown. “Hannah didn’t deserve to die. Our family didn’t deserve to lose her. You took an innocent person’s life. Hannah was only 19 years old and had so much more to accomplish.”

Charlene Brown said she hopes Jio will learn from this. “Because when you or any other person goes out drinking and driving, you are putting everybody’s life at risk… you made a choice to buy alcohol, get in a car, get behind the wheel and drive, and you are playing Russian roulette with people’s lives–anybody who drinks and drives. No matter what you say, I really don’t care. You killed my daughter and that is unforgivable. It wasn’t an accident. It was a crash. Her body was unrecognizable. The coroner wouldn’t even let us see her. There is no forgiving that. I really hope you take this time to think about what you did.”

In handing down the sentence, Judge Cahill said he appreciated the work of prosecutors. “One of the reasons why a case like this is resolved the way it is, contrary to what maybe I think, and even if I believe that evidence of guilt was overwhelming, to have to go through a trial in a case like this is not a pleasant experience… There’s a lot of things that we would see that we shouldn’t have to see–and you know exactly what I’m talking about.”

Jio spoke briefly before the court expressing sorrow, guilt and shame to the Brown family and the community. “It is my hope with a full accounting of my actions I can bring a small amount of closure to the family, some peace to the soul of Hannah Brown and maybe one day forgiveness,” said Jio. She called the decision to consume drugs and alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car, the most horrific and worst decision of her life. “That choice led to the death of an innocent person that I did not know, and I recognize that nothing I can say or do can change the consequences of my actions that night.” She continued saying, “I’m truly sorry for what I have done… My hope is that I can make whatever amends are possible with my future.”

Lieutenant William Hankins, the commander of the Maui Police Department’s Traffic Section said, “Nobody wins in these cases. We need to change state law to lower the Blood Alcohol Level. We are doing well changing people’s attitudes toward impaired driving. Now we need to change the behavior,” he said.

Since Brown’s passing, friends and family organized an annual Hannah Brown Memorial Impaired Driving Checkpoint, which takes place annually, along with other awareness events throughout the year.  Hannah Brown was a vibrant teen that enjoyed hula, paddling, zip-lining and adventure.  Friends and family have told us in prior interviews that what happened to Hannah can happen to anyone. Even though she and her boyfriend weren’t drinking, they were affected by someone who was.

Family of Hannah Brown participate in an Impaired Driving Enforcement sign waving event. (9.3.21) PC: Maui Police Department
Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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