Ridge Alkonis, a U.S. Navy lieutenant stationed in Japan, planned a springtime vacation to Mount Fuji with his wife and three children as a fun and relaxing family outing before an impending deployment.
What transpired after it, and why, is a point of contention. However, it resulted in a three-year prison sentence.
According to Alkonis' relatives and supporters, the naval lieutenant passed out in the automobile and slumped over behind the wheel after suffering from intense altitude sickness.
Prosecutors in Japan and the court who convicted him said he fell asleep while driving while fatigued, avoiding a need to pull over right away.
Whatever the reason, Alkonis' vehicle swerved into parked automobiles and pedestrians in a parking lot, killing an elderly woman and her son-in-law.
Alkonis' parents are begging for compassion for an act as a Japanese court prepares to hear an appeal of his prison sentence on Wednesday.
They claim it was nothing more than a tragic accident, but prosecutors see it as criminal carelessness. He is currently in Japan awaiting the outcome of his appeal.