The hit-and-run driver who killed bicyclist Michael Wang was sentenced to 41 months in prison Friday.
Erlin Garcia-Reyes, 28, of Normandy Park, pleaded guilty July 17 to felony hit-and-run in connection with the July 28, 2011, death of Wang in Seattle last year.
Wang, 44, was hit near the intersection of Dexter Avenue and Thomas in Seattle. Garcia-Reyes fled the scene and wasn’t arrested for nearly a year. Police were able to track him down in June.
In court Friday, a family friend read letters from the victim’s wife and father during sentencing.
“Because of your reckless driving and irresponsible act, you took my son’s life. Have you ever thought how an 80-year-old man felt losing his only child?” read Erica Wolf.
Wolf then read an excerpt from the Wang's wife.
“Erlin Garcia-Reyes killed my husband once. He drove his car over my husband’s chest in order to run away once. Once is too many times. Once is enough for the full punishment permissible by law,” read Wolf.
The defense tried to argue that Garcia-Reyes should receive a lesser sentence because he said that when he was making a left turn off Dexter, he didn’t see Wang and the bicyclist ran into the side of Garcia-Reyes' SUV. That didn’t sit well with the prosecution.
“There is nothing Mr. Wang did wrong in riding down that road. He was legally, fully within his rights and did nothing wrong when a vehicle turned directly in front of him,” said King County senior deputy prosecutor Amy Friedheim.
When asked if he would like to speak, Garcia-Reyes said a few sentences through an interpreter.
“I want to tell the family members that I would like them to forgive me for what happened. I want them to know what happened was an accident and not something I wanted to do,” said Garcia-Reyes.
Garcia-Reyes was sentenced to 41 months, a sentence the prosecution had recommended to the court; the sentence range for felony hit-and-run is 31 to 41 months in prison.
Wang was a staff photographer with the global health non-profit PATH, died at the hospital later.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also has lodged an immigration detainer against Garcia-Reyes.The immigration detainer means that the federal government will seek to take Garcia-Reyes into custody after he is released by local authorities so it can "pursue any appropriate follow-up immigration enforcement action."
A former co-worker of Garcia-Reyes, Alexander Gonzales, said in an interview that Garcia-Reyes told him he was on his way to work when he hit Wang, he got scared and fled the scene because he didn’t want to be arrested and taken away from his wife and two children.
Gonzales said Garcia-Reyes told him that when he learned Wang had died, he felt guilty about it but still did not go to police to turn himself in.
The King County Prosecutor’s Office said Garcia-Reyes was involved in another accident earlier this year. In that incident, officials said, he was the passenger in a vehicle that ran into a gas station.
Police said Garcia-Reyes then got into the driver’s seat, dumped the car and reported it stolen. Seattle police said that when they went to his Normandy Park apartment to question him about the fatal hit-and-run of Wang last summer, Garcia-Reyes confessed.