More than a year after the death of Barbara Crowell, family and friends are fighting for the maximum sentence for the man accused of hitting and killing the Dutch Flat cyclist with a truck while intoxicated.
At a hearing on Tuesday, a judge rejected a plea deal between suspect David Lee Correa and the Placer County District Attorney’s Office. Crowell’s sister Wendy Crowell, of Pennsylvania, said the family was “blindsided by the plea” after poor communication from the District Attorney’s Office, and is pushing for a longer sentence.
“I’d just hate for this to happen to anybody else. It’s just been so devastating on our family this past year,” she said. “Barbara and I were only 11/2 years apart in age. It’s like losing a twin.”
Details of the plea deal were not available Friday. Earlier this month, Correa pleaded no contest to felony gross vehicular manslaughter charges, according to the Auburn Journal. The state Penal Code prescribes a minimum sentence of two years and a maximum of six years for this offense. Correa’s original charges included felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and with gross negligence, possession of a controlled substance and driving with a suspended/revoked license.
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“This is not a law-abiding citizen or a tragic ‘accident,’ ” Crowell’s friend Dana Hofheinz wrote in an email to The Sacramento Bee. “It is tragic because our friend Barbara is dead, but Correa's history of DUI and breaking of the laws makes this unacceptable and should be treated with maximum sentencing.”
Crowell, 52, was biking on Foresthill Road near Auburn when she was struck by the truck from behind and died. The architect and mother of two was an accomplished cyclist who rode with the Sierra Foothills Cycling Club, said Hofheinz, who is also a cyclist in the club.
“We were all very sad and sickened when it happened, and it’s been very frustrating the case has taken so long,” she said.
Former club president and current member Larry Matz said the club’s members, a group of whom attended the hearing Tuesday and have been following the case closely, will be writing letters to the District Attorney’s Office about their sentencing concerns.
“We believe this was a predictable result of (Correa’s) behavior and there needs to be a consequence for that,” he said. “There was certainly a consequence for Barbara and her family.”
The District Attorney’s Office declined comment on the potential plea deal.
“There are ethical rules that limit our ability to comment on pending cases,” Assistant District Attorney Jeff Wilson wrote in an email to The Bee. “It would therefore be inappropriate for our office to discuss the case with you at this point. We will however comment on the case at the time of sentencing.”
The sentencing hearing was continued until Aug. 25.