This past Wednesday, friends and family of Andy Garcia, killed in a brutal hit-and-run last month, came face to face with the woman that had upended their lives.
“It was very hard and emotional being there and seeing the person who killed my friend Andy,” wrote Mario Lopez to me yesterday. Lopez was one of the riders 21 year-old Wendy Villegas had mowed down that fateful night.
It was also physically draining for him.
He is still recovering from fractures in his back and leg. While he is able to stand and walk around for short periods without his walker, he is still in a brace and in a lot of pain.
So, when she and her lawyer complained that wearing an ankle bracelet that would monitor both alcohol intake and movement would be inconvenient to a young, working student as well as a challenge for her to pair it properly with the variety of shoes she wears, Lopez couldn’t take it any more.
“I thought to myself at that moment, ‘Well, what about Andy?’” he wrote. “‘[Andy] was a full time student in college. He had responsibilities. But yet, he can’t and will never be able to fulfill them…And she is worried about her fashion sense! What about the inconvenience she brought upon his family and friends?’”
He finally yelled out, “But she killed someone!”
Indeed she had, and then some.
On the night of Sept. 14th, she had come tearing up the bridge on Cesar Chavez, knocking cyclists out of the way like bowling pins. Lopez was tossed into the air, Garcia was slammed to the ground and his bike was dragged several hundred feet under her car, and Ule Melgar was nearly knocked over the railing and into the river below.
She was still intoxicated when she was taken into custody several hours later.
Thankfully, say both Lopez and Melgar, the judge recognized the seriousness of what had happened and had little sympathy for her.
According to them, the judge told Villegas she will wear the device because she is a danger to society. As such, she is no longer able to drive a vehicle, must obey a curfew, and is obligated to appear in court by 4 p.m. today (Oct. 11) to both pay for the monitor and have it placed around her ankle. Should she choose not to do so, the judge advised, a warrant would be issued for her arrest, she would be placed in custody, and her bail would be revoked.
It isn’t too surprising that she would be already protesting at an arraignment. The charges against her are quite serious: one count of vehicular manslaughter, a DUI, and a felony hit-and-run. Because she had injured so many people, she is looking at a minimum sentence of 5 – 7 years and a maximum of 10 – 15.
While that means that some justice will likely be served, for the young men who witnessed the incident and/or were injured, their lives have been forever changed.