SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – On Thursday, the Senate adopted an amendment to the 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill submitted by Sen. Mike Lee to continue supporting a Navy Lt. imprisoned in Japan with pay and benefits.

Sen. Lee’s amendment directs the Secretary of the Navy to continue the pay and benefits to Lt. Alkonis and his family in Japan.

“I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues for standing with the family of Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis,” said Lee in a statement. “As Lt. Alkonis sits in a Japanese prison on the eve of Christmas, we cannot leave his family wondering how they will feed themselves or keep a roof over their heads.”

Lt. Ridge Alkonis was imprisoned to a three-year sentence while serving in Japan after he was involved in a deadly car accident that resulted in the deaths of two Japanese citizens. Alkonis was determined by a judge in Japan to have been sleeping behind the wheel during the accident but U.S. Navy investigators determined Alkonis suffered from acute mountain sickness and loss of consciousness.

In a statement, Sen. Lee has been critical of the judgement noting that an American servicemember should not be disproportionately punished for an accident resulting from a medical emergency.

Due to department accounting rules, the Navy was set to stop pay and benefits to Lt. Alkonis and his family after his leave expired on Dec. 28. According to Sen. Mike Lee’s office, the Utah senator drafted the amendment after the Department of Defense “failed to gran an Exception to Policy request” that would have continued Alkonis’ pay and benefits past the expiration.

According to the amendment, the Secretary of the Navy will continue to provide pay and benefits until the Secretary “makes a determination with the respect to the separation” of Alkonis from the Navy.