Cranston Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Allan W. Fung has recounted a tragic accident he caused in 1989 as a college freshman when he crashed on Route 95 and struck a 41-year-old Pawtucket man who later died from his injuries.
In an interview with the Providence Journal, Fung said he wanted to explain what happened to voters because two people approached him and asked about it and "in the world that we live in, with politics, if those two individuals approached me, who knows how many more people might have heard something but are afraid to approach me."
Fung said the incident has shaped who he is as a person and telling the story is difficult. He also said he didn't want to bring up painful memories for the family of the victim, James W. Skipper, who was changing a tire on his car when the accident occurred.
But because he is running for governor, Fung said he wanted to tell the story publicly now because, according to the Journal, "he believes if he does not, someone else will, with the aim of crippling or ending his bid to be Rhode Island’s next governor."
"I trust that the voters, not only of Cranston but people of the state of Rhode Island, have that trust in me and can see that it’s part of me and this is something that is … part of the ups and downs of my life that have made me who I am. And I trust that they’ll understand, hopefully, understand what happened," Fung said.
Fung alerted supporters about the article in an early-morning email on Monday. In it, he said from the day it happened, "I made a commitment to enter public service and improve the lives of others."
"To this day, it is difficult for me to discuss the events of that day. I am deeply sorry for the pain and grief of the family and friends of the man who lost his life," he wrote.
Joyce Strange, Skipper's sister, told the Journal that "it's right" for Fung to try to put the incident behind him.
She said Fung won't ever forget what happened and he's "gone through hell" over it.
"People should not hold that against him," she said.
Fung was charged with driving to endanger, death resulting. He was never indicted by a grand jury and later worked to get the charges expunged from his record.
Here's the e-mail:
As you can image, every day as a candidate for Governor of Rhode Island is a challenge, both professionally and personally. Recently, I have been asked to talk about the most painful experience of my life, which has nothing to do with politics. When I was in college, I was in a car accident that resulted in a fatality.
The accident was thoroughly investigated, and all charges were dismissed. Neither drugs nor alcohol was involved.
This is something that I have lived with, and will continue to live with, for the rest of my life.
As a candidate for Cranston City Council in 2002, I disclosed the details of this incident on a candidate questionnaire and in a follow up conversation with The Providence Journal; however, an article was not published at that time.
Recently, as I campaign for Governor, I have been asked about the accident. I believe all the voters of Rhode Island need to hear from me the details of this tragic accident that happened almost 25 years ago.
At my request, I was interviewed by The Providence Journal and the article will appear in today's newspaper. To this day, it is difficult for me to discuss the events of that day. I am deeply sorry for the pain and grief of the family and friends of the man who lost his life.
From that day forward, I made a commitment to enter public service and to improve the lives of others.
I ask you to give me the opportunity to fulfill the pledge I made so many years ago.
Thank you for your support.