YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Driver Says Alcohol Is Not Cause of Fatality : Jailhouse interview: Man suspected of running down pregnant woman in the street says he wasn't drunk at the time and that armed men scared him away from scene.


SANTA ANA — The man arrested in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of a pregnant woman on Thursday denied from jail that he was drunk when he ran over the woman and said she stepped in front of his car.

Isikeli (Kelly) Fukofuka, 34, also said he left the scene because two men were waving guns at him.

"I thought they were trying to shoot me," said Fukofuka of Orange, his shoulder-length brown hair in dreadlocks hanging over his orange prison uniform. "I feel bad because I didn't want to kill her, but it wasn't my fault she walked into the street."

Police said they know of no one trying to shoot Fukofuka.

Fukofuka added that he stopped his pickup truck soon after he saw police cars chasing him from where Carmen Cisneros, 31, the mother of five, was hit in the 500 block of East 1st Street.

He was arrested and taken to Orange County Jail, where he is being held on suspicion of drunk driving, hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter.

"I never saw her," he said.

Fukofuka, who was born in Tonga, a country of about 150 islands in the South Pacific and 3,000 miles southwest of Honolulu, said he emigrated from the islands in 1981 and has been working as a tree trimmer.

Though records from courts and the state Department of Motor Vehicles show that he has had more than half a dozen traffic-related arrests and misdemeanors in connection with public drunkenness, possessing drug paraphernalia, and assault and battery, Fukofuka said he didn't want to talk about those incidents.

"I know I'm not guilty now," he said.

On Thursday about 8:15 p.m., Fukofuka said, he was on his way from Anaheim, where he was trying to get tree-trimming jobs, to his uncle's house in Santa Ana. He said he did not see Cisneros in his path until it was too late.

Police and witnesses said the woman, a mother of five walking to her Santa Ana home after buying diapers, was pushing a supermarket cart and apparently was not paying attention when she tried to cross busy 1st Street. Cisneros did not use a crosswalk.

Fukofuka's pickup truck was going about 45 m.p.h. when he hit her, witnesses told investigators.

He was driving without a license, according to DMV records, which show his driver's license had been suspended in November, 1990, because he did not have proof of car insurance. He never cleared that suspension nor renewed the license, which expired September, 1991, DMV records show.

His most recent arrest was July 30 in a beach parking lot on the Balboa Peninsula, when he and a friend who was driving a car were arrested on alcohol-related charges. Fukofuka paid $100 in fines and promised to appear in court last week.

In 1988, he was arrested in Orange for hitting a man with his fist. Fukofuka, charged with assault and battery and resisting arrest, served three days in jail and worked 10 days with the California Department of Transportation.

Now he awaits trial dates and hopes he will be proven innocent, he said.

"I pray all the time," Fukofuka said.

Los Angeles Times Articles