Thirteen months after UCSB triathlete Kendra Payne was struck and killed by a truck while riding her bicycle, driver Marcos Almaguer has been sentenced on charges of trespass by a motor vehicle.
During a triathlon team-training ride on Jan. 11, 2006, Payne and a teammate were biking around a sharp curve on Gibraltar Road in Goleta when Payne was hit by a truck. Payne died later that day from injuries sustained from the accident.
Almaguer, who was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the accident, has been under investigation since it occurred. He will serve 45 days in the county jail, and subsequently be put on probation for three years, as well as be subject to warrantless searches of all his property.
Almaguer was originally charged with vehicular manslaughter, which is a misdemeanor, said Assistant District Attorney Patrick McKinley. Since then, his lawyers have been working to reduce the charge, and on Feb. 8 the defendant pled guilty to the charge of trespass by a motor vehicle, also a misdemeanor.
One reason for the appeal of the vehicular manslaughter charge, McKinley said, was that the sentence would have included a driver license suspension. With the reduced charges, the defendant will be able to keep his job as a truck driver.
Trespass by a motor vehicle typically entails a $125 victim restitution fine, McKinley said. In addition, the defendant must make regular payments to the Kendra Chiota Payne Memorial Fund at UCSB.
McKinley said the defendant already made an $8,000 payment to the fund, and he will continue to pay $100 per month for the duration of the three-year probation.
The defendant does not have other violations on his record.
Although the exact circumstances of the accident are unknown, Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition President Ralph Fertig said he believes the road was narrow, and Almaguer should not have attempted to pass Payne’s bike.
“We don’t really know what happened, but he shouldn’t have passed her; there wasn’t enough room,” he said. “I think he was just negligent.”
Fertig said Almaguer did not notice that he had hit Payne’s bike, and continued driving around the corner. He was not aware of the accident until another truck driver called and notified him a couple minutes later.
Many community members, UCSB students and triathlon teammates hoped for a more severe sentence, Fertig said.
“While [the sentence] is certainly disappointing to us all suffering with the loss,” Fertig said, “there is a sense of resolution and attribution of guilt, however small it might seem in relation to the tragic loss.”