SAN DIEGO — Supporters of an America Navy lieutenant jailed in Japan are calling for his release.
The parents of Lt. Ridge Alkonis rallied in front of the San Diego Convention Center on Thursday, along with others, in hopes of bringing their son home. They believe he was wrongfully detained.
But this issue is much bigger, they say, than just bringing one man home.
In an effort to garner the attention of high-ranking Navy personnel attending the WEST Conference, a premier naval convention, the family of Lt. Alkonis held signs and flags that read “BRING RIDGE HOME.”
The lieutenant was sentence to three years in prison for a car crash that killed two Japanese citizens back in 2021. The 34-year-old was stationed in Japan when it happened.
The day of the accident he was driving with his wife and children when he lost consciousness.
His family says he passed out because of delayed altitude sickness from a hike on Mount Fuji.
But it was the opinion of the Japanese court that Alkonis fell asleep at the wheel and was found guilty of negligent driving causing death.
The parents of the naval officer told FOX 5 the accident was due to a medical emergency and believe it was not criminal in nature.
“…A neurologist said that it was altitude related acute sickness that affected him and that evidence never made it into court,” said Suzi Alkonis, the serviceman’s mother.
Derek Alkonis, his father, claims his son’s constitutional rights, which are supposed to be protected under an agreement between the two countries, were not.
“We believe we need the attention of naval operations, the secretary of the Navy — both are here at the conference,” Derek said. “We want them to know to not only bring Ridge home, but also we need to protect the families that are serving overseas. Ridges rights were not protected under the SOFA agreement. We want it revised.”
Family members of the Navy sailor have lobbied the White House to seek an early release.