A group of bicyclists took to the roads of Los Angeles in honor of fellow cyclist, Luis “Andy” Garcia, who was killed by a drunk driver last September.
Garcia, 21, was riding in the early morning hours of September 14, 2013 with 28-year old Los Angeles resident Ulises Melgar and 30-year old Mario Lopez of Bellflower. The cyclists were riding east on Cesar Chavez Avenue at Mission Road in Los Angeles when they were struck from behind by a car driven by 21-year old Wendy Villegas.
Villegas fled the scene, leaving the three cyclists on the road. After going home and asking her parents to call for assistance, Villegas turned herself into police.
Unfortunately, after Villegas fled the scene, a minivan failed to see the downed cyclists and struck Garcia, dragging him for a short distance. Garcia was pronounced dead at the scene.
The group of cyclists left Bell Gardens at 7:15 a.m. on Tuesday and rode to a Los Angeles courthouse where Villegas was due to appear a few hours later for a pre-trial hearing. She has been charged with driving under the influence, felony manslaughter and hit-and-run.
A Facebook invitation for Tuesday’s ride read, “CALLING ALL CYCLISTS, Come out and support our fallen rider(s) as we go to court and fight for justice, better laws, and RESPECT for cyclists. THE MORE RIDERS THAT FILL THE COURT ROOM THE BETTER.”
Unfortunately, all too often DUI related accidents are coupled with hit-and-run incidences. It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident. Garcia’s death may have been prevented had Villegas not fled.
In California, a person can be charged with felony hit-and-run if they leave the scene of an accident without first identifying themselves and someone, other than the driver, was injured or killed. It is a misdemeanor offense if, rather than someone being killed or injured, the accident causes property damage.