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Four-year prison sentence in Foresthill Road bike-death case

Sentencing follows no contest manslaughter plea by David Correa
By: Gus Thomson of the Auburn Journal
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The driver of a pickup that struck and killed a cyclist on Foresthill Road July 3, 2014, has been sentenced to four years in prison.

David Lee Correa, 39, of Foresthill, was sentenced Tuesday on a no-contest plea to a felony gross vehicular manslaughter charge in Placer County Superior Court in Roseville.

The question of whether Correa was impaired by the pain killer Vicodin at the time of the 6:30 a.m. crash was initially an issue after his arrest on felony driving-under-the-influence allegations. He was originally charged with murder, based on a previous DUI arrest in 2006 and other circumstances.

Correa pleaded no contest in mid-July to the single manslaughter charge and other charges were not pursued.

According to the California Highway Patrol investigation, the right front of Correa’s pickup struck cyclist Barbara Lane Crowell, 52, of Dutch Flat, as both she and Correa were traveling west on Foresthill Road toward Auburn, just west of the Foresthill Bridge.

The Placer County District Attorney’s Office issued a statement on the case Wednesday saying: “Mr. Correa entered a plea to a violation of Penal Code section 192(c)(1), Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence, a serious felony (“strike”). He was sentenced to a term of 4 years in the California Department of Corrections.”

Prosecutor Jeff Wood said resolution of the case was based on the District Attorney’s Office’s continued investigation, “in which it was determined through forensic testing that there was insufficient evidence to show he was under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of the incident.”

Before sentencing, cyclists with the 310-member Sierra Foothills Cycling Club wrote letters to the court and attended hearings in an attempt to have a stiffer sentence handed down.

David Austin, Sierra Foothills Cycling Club president, said Wednesday that he was not at the Tuesday sentencing because of complications from a collision with a vehicle on King Road that forced his own hospitalization.

“That being said, in this circumstance, there’s a lot of grief in the community, the bike community and the family more particularly, considering an awful light sentence and given the seriousness of the issues,” Austin said.

With time served, estimates are that Correa may serve six to 10 months in prison, at most, Austin said. Correa has been in Placer County Jail since being arrested in July 2014.

“We’re concerned what signal that sends to the motor-vehicle-operating public – that cyclists aren’t a serious matter,” Austin said. “It’s very discouraging. Light sentencing and an unwillingness by law enforcement to cite drivers sends a wrong message that cyclists are unimportant.”