A source calling from the courthouse in Orange County has just reported that the driver who killed 21-year old Jax Bicycle Center employee Joseph Robinson has pleaded guilty to hit-and-run and drug charges, and will face significant jail time.
Sommer Niclole Gonzales, just 18 at the time of the collision, was sentenced to spend the next 11 years of her life behind bars after she admitted responsibility and waived her right to appeal.
Robinson was taking the long way to work on a sunny February morning last year when he was run down from behind while riding in the bike lane on Santiago Canyon Road.
He was hit with enough force to knock him and his bike completely off the roadway; his body was only discovered because an off-duty fire captain spotted a car with a shattered windshield speeding in the opposite direction, then saw a single shoe lying on the side of the roadway.
Gonzales was arrested in a parking lot a short time later as a friend helped her transfer her belongings into another car, in an apparent attempt to cover up her responsibility for the crime. She was found in possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia at the time of her arrest.
No word on why her friend wasn’t charged for assisting in the attempted coverup.
The victim’s family was reportedly in tears following the sentencing.
According to the source, the judge’s final words to her were “What a tragedy. Just because you wanted to do meth.”
Update: I corrected the above quote from the judge, which was off slightly due to a bad phone connection.
Gonzales will get credit for 888 days served, reducing her sentence by nearly two-and-a-half years; she’ll also serve three years parole upon her release.
Update 2: According to a press release from the Orange County DA’s office, Gonzales was found guilty of:
- Felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated
- Felony hit and run with death
- Misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance
- Misdemeanor use and under the influence of a controlled substance
- Misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance paraphernalia
- Along with a sentencing enhancement allegation for fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter
Robinson’s family offered emotional impact statements, including this video from his mother showing him riding in happier days.
Then there’s this moving quote from his sister.
“My heart literally hurts when I think about my brother, I can’t think about him without crying. My drive to work takes me right past the accident site where his ghost bike is still hanging. Every morning and night as I pass that spot, I tell Joey aloud that I love him and cry.”
If you’ve ever wondered what harm driving under the influence can cause, that pretty much sums it up.
Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling for the press release.
Update 3: My News LA adds more details, including quotes from Robinson’s family members and his girlfriend.
The story also quotes Gonzales’ attorney explaining that she had first tried marijuana at age 12, and quickly moved on to meth, which she had been her drug of choice ever since.
According to the attorney, she knew she had hit something, and stopped to see what it was, but continued on when she didn’t see Robinson or his bike.