Fung discloses fatal crash from 1989

NBC 10 Archive: February 17, 1989

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung was overcome by emotion Monday as he recounted how he was responsible for a crash that killed a man 25 years ago.

Fung, a Republican who is running for governor, was talking to reporters at a City Hall news briefing when he choked up.

"It's difficult to talk about this from two fronts, not only for myself, but also " said Fung, at which point he excused himself and temporarily left the room.

The crash happened Feb. 17, 1989, on Interstate 95 south in Cranston.

Then 18 years old, Fung had come home for the weekend from college in New Haven. He was driving back to Cranston when he somehow lost consciousness.
His car veered and struck a car belonging to James Skipper, a 41-year-old Pawtucket man. Skipper had pulled over and was changing a tire at the time. He died as a result of the crash.

"I remember the crash woke me back up, and I stopped the car and got out and remember seeing him lying there, and I was just in shock," Fung said.

Skipper's sister, Joyce Strange, lived out of state at the time and still does.

"At the time of course my parents were extremely upset. We all were upset," Strange said.

Despite the family's pain, Strange said she doesn't hold any ill will against Fung.

"I would not say he should have been punished. Like I said, this is exactly what it was. It was an accident," Strange said.

Fung later agreed to an out-of-court settlement of $112,000 to Skipper's parents, money he said was paid by his parents and insurance company.

"I am certainly grateful for their understanding and at the appropriate time I will give them a call," Fung said.

Fung said he's never tried to hide the accident and that he has spoken about it in the past on occasions when asked if he was arrested, including with the Providence Journal in 2002 when he was running for City Council. A story was never published.

Fung said over the holidays he was approached by two different supporters separately asking him about the accident. At that point, he said realized the issue was out there and that he needed to address it.

"Politics is a game where things compound, and the mayor's had a bad week with the police scandal and now this. And the issue is, he's got to really come forward, be as candid and open as possible. It's still very early in the campaign for governor, so I don't think there's long-standing damage," Brown University professor and NBC 10 political analyst Wendy Schiller said.

Fung said neither alcohol nor drugs were involved. He was charged with driving to endanger, death resulting, but a grand jury declined to indict him and the charges were dropped. He later had his record expunged.