I’ve just received word that Stephanie Segal was sentenced today to nine years in state prison for the drunken hit-and-run death of popular cyclist James Laing.
Laing was riding in a designated bike lane on Agoura Hills Road on October 23rd, 2010, when a car driven by Segal drifted into his lane and hit him from behind before speeding off. Witnesses followed her car to a nearby parking lot where she was arrested with a blood alcohol level of .26 — over three times the legal limit.
According to an attorney who was in the Malibu courtroom, Segal was sentenced to four years for vehicular manslaughter, with a five year enhancement for leaving the scene.
From what I’ve been told, Segal never accepted responsibility for her actions; that, along with the heinous nature of her crime, may have contributed to the unusually stiff sentence.
Finally, a judge has treated the death of a cyclist with the seriousness it deserves. Judge Mira deserves our thanks for sending a strong message that fleeing the scene after killing another human being — especially when drunk — cannot and will not be tolerated by a civil society.
Now if only a few other judges would get the message.
If she serves her full term, Segal will be 53 years old when she gets out of prison.
Maybe by then she’ll finally grasp the needless heartache and loss she caused Laing’s widow, his brothers and sisters, and all those who knew him.
She is scheduled to begin her sentence on April 16th.
Update: The Ventura County Star offers a few more details, including word that Laing’s widow received a substantial settlement prior to the sentencing, according to her attorney, Oxnard-based Mark Hiepler.
“It is our hope that today’s nine-year sentence, as well as the civil accountability, will send a message to the community about the real life consequences of drunk driving,” he said. “The death of James Laing continues to produce an ongoing ripple effect in the lives of his wife, their families, the cycling community, and in the lives of each of his students who admired him.
“It also is our hope that this criminal sentence will force people to be more respectful of the rights of law-abiding bicyclists and cyclists,” Hiepler said.