Injustice for Filipino-American family killed in crash last year
By Heidi M. Pascual

Recently, the sentence given by the court to the man who killed a Filipino father and his four daughters due to a vehicular accident in
Delaware was one year of probation. Stunned and angry, I didn’t really know what to say the moment I read the news on the matter.

For those who might have forgotten, the Filipino dad was 61-year-old Audie Trinidad of Teaneck, New Jersey, and his four daughters,
Kaitlyn, 20; Danna, 17; and Melissa and Allison, 13-year-old twins. Trinidad was a U.S. Navy veteran who settled with his family in New
Jersey. The family, including Trinidad’s wife, Mary Rose Ballocanag, was returning from a trip to Ocean City, Maryland, when a pickup
truck driven by Alvin Hubbard III of Cambridge, crossed the median and hit the family’s van and another car. Only the wife of Trinidad
survived with serious injuries.

Hubbard was initially charged with “five counts of second-degree vehicular homicide, three counts of vehicular assault and other
offenses.” It was reported that Hubbard had a coughing fit that unfortunately caused the accident killing Trinidad and his four daughters.
He pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of operating a motor vehicle causing death and two misdemeanor counts of vehicular

Whatever reason the erring driver gave to prove that it was not his intention to start the accident, five people were left dead, all coming
from one family! The mother who survived probably almost lost her mind the moment she learned what happened to her husband and
four daughters. As a mother, I feel Rose Ballocanag’s pain, and if I were in her shoes, I don’t really know if I still would want to live.
Losing her whole family was like losing her world, her love, her life itself. Filipino mothers – and perhaps most mothers in other cultures
– would give their lives to protect their family, especially their children. This unfortunate and horrible accident left Rose alone and
desperate for justice for her family.

The justice Rose sought for more than a year came to naught, adding to her distress and depression. The decision of the court for the
perpetrator to suffer what –one year probation – not only showed how unjust our justice system is toward people of color. If the family
killed were Caucasian, I am pretty sure the driver would get the maximum penalty under the law. I hope our civil rights organizations
would act fast to question the slap-on-the-wrist penalty for killing a family whose future was cut short by a coughing White driver.