Maybe you remember.
It was a little over two-and-a-half years ago when a Los Olivos mother crossed the center line on Foxen Canyon Road near the city, and plowed her SUV into a group of cyclists while under the influence of prescription medication.
With her eight-month old daughter in the car.
Two of the eight cyclists, who were participating in a riding camp, were injured. One woman suffered arm and leg fractures; the other, 57-year old Gary Lynn Holmes, suffered serious brain injuries, and was still unresponsive when 32-year old Alicia Gilbert was charged in the collision three months later.
He never recovered.
Santa Barbara County prosecutors were clearly as incensed as local cyclists were, charging her with driving under the influence of a drug and causing bodily injury, failing to provide accurate information at the scene of an accident, child endangerment, false personification of another and driving with a suspended license.
Gilbert eventually accepted a plea bargain, pleading no contest to a single felony count of driving under the influence causing injury; she was sentenced to four years and four months in state prison.
Unlike most revolving door sentences that allow guilty parties to serve just a fraction of their time, sentencing guidelines require her to serve 85% of her sentence before she’s eligible for parole.
That works out to just over three years and eight months, making her up for parole in July, 2016; the state inmate locator confirms that she is still behind bars.
Her daughter, eight months old at the time of the collision, will be nearly five before she even has a chance to get out. And return to a daughter who will barely know her.
Meanwhile, Holmes, a former champion triathlete, remained unresponsive, and was returned to his Memphis-area hometown where he could be near family.
Sadly, Orange County Bicycle Coalition board member Barbara Danzi writes that he passed away earlier this month; a funeral notice confirms he died on October 15th.
I knew Gary when I attended the same Tri camp in 2011. He was a great guy, full of stories of his 20+ Ironman races. He seemed to enjoy the training for the camaraderie as he would wait by the side of the road to cheer people on and take photos and video. His tri club members said that he would ride with anyone, anytime, anywhere, any speed.
As she points out, he was not from here.
But his life effectively ended as one of us, on a lonely, winding road outside of a picturesque California town, at the hands of a woman who couldn’t manage to stay out of her car when she was too stoned to drive.
There is simply no excuse, ever.
And the price paid by family and loved ones, of both the victim and his killer, is just too damn high.
My thanks to Barbara Danzi for the news, and my deepest prayers and sympathy for Gary Holmes and all his family and loved ones.