Utah family hopes to bring loved one home from Japanese prison
Sep 10, 2022, 7:47 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2023, 9:22 am
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah family is watching and waiting as their loved one, a U.S. Navy lieutenant, sits in a Japanese prison after a medical accident killed two people.
Lt. Ridge Alkonis was deployed to Japan and has lived there with his wife, Brittany Alkonis, and three kids for six years.
Brittany went to Brigham Young University and has family here in Utah. Ridge served a Latter-day Saint mission in Japan, which just adds one more layer to why this has been so devastating for him and his family.
“There’s a lot of people that we love in that country that we love dearly, and when all this is said and done, we won’t be able to see them again,” Brittany said.
About a year ago, the family hiked Mt. Fuji in Japan, and on the way home, Ridge passed out at the wheel, crashing into a parked car and killing two Japanese people.
Ridge was investigated by the U.S. Navy, and they concluded it was a medical emergency that caused the accident. However, he was put on trial in Japan and sentenced to three years in prison.
“There’s a lot of things we need to heal from. There’s the crash itself was traumatic, it was scary,” Brittany explains. “What we have gone through with the Navy has led to a lot of trauma. You know, my number one focus right now is getting my husband reunited with his children.”
Brittany now fights for her husband daily in Washington, D.C., where both Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney have joined their cause, pushing for the release of a U.S. service member.
“It’s the U.S.’s job to make sure that when they send their service members to Japan, they make sure they’re adequately protected and there’s someone there to stand up for their rights,” she said.
And other family members are doing what they can to support Ridge.
“We wish he was free, and we’re hoping for it, and we’re doing everything we can to get him free,” said Wendy and Jerry Houck, Brittany’s grandparents.
“They’re all amazing. They’re just the last people in the world that deserve something like this to happen to them,” added her brother, Ryan Bowcutt.
Brittany is trying to work with the Department of Defense and others to get her husband home. She’s making efforts to meet with President Joe Biden in hopes that he can help.