I am writing to express my fury with Judge William Herringer’s recent ruling in the death of Benjamin Sonntag. The defendant was sentenced to only three years in prison for the death of this respected and loved cyclist. He’ll likely be released within 18 months, if not less – yet his family and the cycling community lost a beloved person and rider forever. There is no rational explanation for the judge’s decision.
Obviously, the judge doesn’t know anyone who cycles regularly. If he did, he would know that on every ride, cyclists must behave as though every vehicle might cause their death. The appallingly lenient sentence demonstrated no care for cyclists in this state, and showed that drivers can continue to be as reckless as they like with very little chance of punishment. Driving 30 miles over the posted speed limit on rough country roads is in no way an accident; it is instead a total lack of concern for other humans. The defendant’s involvement and subsequent attempted disappearance from a motorcycle crash while out on bail even more clearly demonstrates his complete disregard for others.
The trucker who carelessly killed four on Interstate 70 received a sentence of 110 years, and the Nevada man who killed five cyclists received a sentence of 40 years. Truly, a pitiful three years (or more likely 18 months) is nothing compared with the loss of Mr. Sonntag. This cavalier sentence was devastating to Mr. Sonntag’s family and the Colorado cycling community. Judge Herringer should be ashamed.