Driver who killed cyclist gets 14-year sentence

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A 29-year-old man who drove a stolen car while under the influence of alcohol and ended up killing a bicyclist was sentenced Friday to more than 14 years in prison.

Michael Reyes pleaded guilty in May to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, auto theft, possession of methamphetamine and other counts. A judge sentenced him to 14 years, 8 months.

Shortly before 4:15 p.m. on March 3, Reyes was driving a stolen silver Nissan Maxima westbound on East J Street when he suddenly crossed into oncoming traffic and struck 46-year-old cyclist David Voigt, Chula Vista police Lt. Lon Turner said.

The Maxima continued onto a sidewalk after striking Voigt, eventually coming to rest after hitting an SDG&E power pole and a tree.    Paramedics took both Voigt and Reyes to UCSD Medical Center, where Voigt
died and Reyes was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The Maxima was stolen out of National City earlier in the day, Turner said, adding that property found inside the vehicle also appeared to be stolen.

Turner said Reyes admitted drinking prior to the collision at East J Street and Dennis Avenue.

The defendant was on probation for auto theft and possession of methamphetamine at the time of the crash, said Deputy District Attorney Carlos Varela.

The victim's father, David Voigt, was the first to speak of the family's pain.

"The maximum sentence, 14 years ... It's not enough. David's gone forever," Voigt said.

Reyes never made eye contact any of the Voigts, but the 10News camera did capture the moment a single tear fell from his eye.
 
The victim's sister-in-law, Miriam Voigt, told of the depth of her husband's grief.

"Not a day goes by that my husband doesn't feel the loss of his brother," Miriam Voigt said.

She also spoke directly to the defendant, saying, "March 3 is forever going to be embedded in the minds of our family. You've broken many hearts."

Jason Voigt glared at Reyes as he struggled with his anguish.

"Fourteen years. Big f-- Wow. Fifteen, 20; my brother will never be back. His kids will never have a father," Jason Voigt said.

Brother-in-law Bruce Bell declared, "Michael's actions were criminal and monstrous; wreaking havoc in the lives of others."

Varela read a letter from the victim's wife, Elvia. She rode in the ambulance with her gravely injured husband as he was rushed to the hospital.

"I will never forget the look in his beautiful green eyes, trying to tell me that he loved me," Varela read.

Defense attorney Dalen Duong told the court that Reyes had considered making a brief statement of apology but that he realized it would seem shallow and pointless.

"I know that he is extremely remorseful for what happened, extremely sorry," Duong said.

Judge Garry Haehnle noted that the system failed with Reyes. He ssaid Reyes had shown no respect for the law or society with his many crimes, including hit-and-run, vandalism, theft, alcohol and drug abuse.

The victim's father said though they'd wished the sentence was longer, they're satisfied with the outcome.

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