Hi Goyo. I have to share this story. My friend Carmen Tellez experienced a horrific tragedy, one that I would never wish upon anyone. Her son was killed by a speeding drunk driver that left the scene and never looked back. She received the call that is every parents nightmare. I love cycling, but I love life, and my friend's sons life was taken away abruptly and unfairly, to a hit and run motorist that simply doesn't share the views of responsible driving. Let me share Carmen's story, and I hope that you will be touched to sign this petition and share this cause with your friends. ~ Mario Gastelum
Carmen Tellez Story.
On September 14, 2013, I, awoke to every parent's worst nightmare: a speeding drunk driver had slammed into my son Luis “Andy” Garcia, dragging his bike under her car for several hundred feet. This drunk driver had also knocked aside Mario Lopez, sending him into the pavement and breaking his back, and launched Ulises Melgar so high into the air that he almost sailed over the railing of the bridge to the river below.
The damage had been severe.
My son, Luis “Andy” Garcia, died on the scene. Both Ulises and Mario ended up in the hospital. The compression fracture Mario sustained in his lower back forced him to move back home with his parents and lose three months of work.
The driver was a 21-year-old college student named Wendy Villegas.
She never stopped to check on the well being of the three cyclists. Instead, she drove off and never looked back. Luckily, another motorist happened to have witnessed this tragedy and took pursuit, following Villegas as she weaved her way home. The police were able to verify that she had been driving drunk when they booked her — still intoxicated — at 7:15 the next morning.
She didn’t stay in jail for long. Shortly after being charged with DUI, hit-and-run resulting in injury or death and vehicular manslaughter, she was released on a $100,000.00 bond.
People of California vs Wendy Stephanie Villegas , Case Number: BA416407-01
On March 22, 2014, Villegas entered a plea agreement of 3 years and 8 months in a State Prison.
Under California law, Villegas could have been sentenced to up to 15 years for killing Andy, injuring Mario and Ulises, fleeing the scene, and driving under the influence. Instead, she was offered a deal of 3 years and 8 months — a sentence that fits within the window of what she might have gotten just for driving drunk and leaving the scene of a crash. And, because she is young and has a clean record, she will likely only serve a portion of that time.
My family was not consulted about the plea offer.
Nor were the two young men involved in this horrific tragedy.
The only chance we had to participate in the legal process was after the fact, when the defendant finally entered a “no contest” plea. We were allowed to read out statements about how her actions had affected our lives.
In short, a sentence was imposed, but justice was not served.
Throughout the court proceedings, Villegas’ only facial expression appeared to be that of indifference. At no time did she ever make eye contact, apologize to my family or me, or express even an ounce of remorse. Instead, she treated my son’s death as an inconvenience, complaining to the court that having to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet impaired her ability to be fashionable.
While Villegas was sentenced to 44 months, there is a strong likelihood she will only do about 50% of her sentence, which equals out to 22 months. Of which She will serve about 18 months of that time in California State Prison and the final 4 months in a half-way house.
The tragic and violent death of my son, Luis Andy Garcia, amounts to little more than a short-lived inconvenience for Villegas. For me, the sentence is much harsher – a lifetime of pain and grief, both for the loss of my son and knowing that his killer got away with murder.
Such a sentence is only possible because our judicial system does not take hit-and-runs very seriously.
For this reason, I feel it is important to advocate for this bill. We need to overhaul the sentencing guidelines for these types of tragedies. We need to make sure that our legal system holds individuals accountable to society for their actions. We need the California legislature to take a hard stance against reckless motorists who cause injury or death to pedestrians, runners, or cyclists.
Please help me champion stricter sentences. Show your support by following the URL at Change.org and sharing the link with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and with your family, friends, and colleagues at work or school.
Help me turn tragedy into triumph with stricter sentences for criminal defendants.