Parents of bicyclist seek maximum penalty for drunken driver after fatality in California

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The parents of a nursing student killed by a drunken driver as she rode her bicycle home from the library at Chico State University in California wrote the following heart-felt letter.

Kristina Chesterman

Kristina Chesterman

It shows how the irresponsible actions can have far-reaching consequences.

“The body of our daughter, Kristina Chesterman, lies upstairs at Enloe Medical Center waiting to be used to help other patients in need of organ donations. Her death certificate was signed yesterday afternoon after it was determined that her brain was so severely crushed in a brutal accident two days ago that it no longer was functioning. She was struck by a drunk driver while riding in the bicycle lane on her way home from studying for several hours at the Chico State library. She was pursuing her childhood dream of becoming a nurse and was on was well on her way to achieving that lifelong goal. She planned to spend the early years of her career as a nurse with the organization called Doctors Without Borders so she could help people in the poor and war-torn areas of the world receive needed care. She then planned to work at Stanford Hospital to continue to provide needed medical care and to help teach nursing to others.

“Our daughter’s dreams and hopes came to an abrupt end when she was struck by a car driven by a young man so drunk that he hit two parked cars after killing our daughter and could not even stand up when arrested a short time later. It is incomprehensible that the reckless act of a falling-down drunk could cut short the life of a beautiful, talented person who had so much to contribute to our world.

“While we would want nothing more than for this man to spend the rest of his days behind bars, as any parents would, this would still pale in comparison to the tragic death of our beautiful daughter Kristina. However understanding that life in prison is not going to happen, we would urge the courts to at least impose the most severe sentence to help minimize the chance of another family from facing a similar tragedy again. A severe punishment for this senseless crime will not only keep this drunken driver off the streets but will deter others from getting behind the wheel when intoxicated. In that way, our daughter’s death will have some meaning and will further her dream of helping others and improving our world.”

— Dave and Sandra Chesterman

The driver in this case has been identified as Riley Hoover, 19, of Ohio. The Chico Enterprise Record reports that he’s been charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with a special allegation of fleeing the scene. He also faces a felony charge of transporting marijuana for sale.

If convicted he could be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Meanwhile, Hoover was on one-year’s probation from Cuyahoga County, Ohio, for marijuana trafficking. Violation of probation could bring further penalties.

The victim was a nursing student at Chico State. She graduated from Granada High School in Livermore, California.

Police said Chesterman was riding in the bike lane on Big Chico Creek Bridge when she was struck by the SUV. The vehicle was found soon afterward in the parking lot of the apartment complex where Hoover lived.

Our condolences to the family and friends she leaves behind.

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    • Tony Rocha (@aerocha) on September 26, 2013 at 11:32 am
    • Reply

    We have lots of university students who ride to campus here in Chico. There also seems to be quite a few vehicle vs bicycle accidents in Chico. They usually don’t end this badly. Sad day here in our little town.

    • Kolo Jezdec on September 28, 2013 at 3:59 pm
    • Reply

    This has never and likely will never treat driving drunk as the crime it should be. Driving when drunk is a crime. Killing another person while committing a crime should be a serious offense, not a 10 year sentence.

    I fear that the same sort of light sentences will become the norm for drivers who kill while using a phone.

    All cars should be equipped with 2 devices: 1) a breathalyzer that will not allow the car to start if the driver is over the legal limit, and 2) a signal blocker that would prevent the use of a phone when a car is in gear. Yeah, both of these ideas have flaws, but so does what we are doing now.

      • Kolo Jezdec on September 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm
      • Reply

      Meant to say, “This country never has and..”

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