An Albuquerque woman ordered to serve 90 days home arrest for striking and killing cyclist Scott “Dwane” Lane in January apologized to Lane’s wife during the sentencing hearing on Friday.
But Sheryl Kearby, widow of the Albuquerque father of four, rejected Carol Svinarich’s apology as “too little, too late” and “a ploy to get her sentence reduced.”
District Court Judge Reed Sheppard also ordered Svinarich to pay a $300 fine and $17,560 restitution to the family for medical and other costs. Svinarich earlier pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of careless driving. Ninety days in jail and $300 fine is the maximum sentence for the charge.
Svinarich also will be required to wear an ankle bracelet that can sense alcohol from perspiration during her home arrest. Svinarich was arrested Aug. 20 for first-offense driving while intoxicated. That case is scheduled for trial next month in Bernalillo County Metro Court.
Kearby, who asked the judge to impose the maximum penalty for careless driving, said later that harsher penalties are needed for drivers whose actions take a life.
“We are insulted that Dwane’s life is worth only $300 and 90 days in jail,” Kearby told the judge. “I lost my best friend, who I have known since the fourth grade.”
Jennifer Buntz, president of the Duke City Wheelmen Foundation, an advocacy group for cyclists, told the judge that “a maximum sentence will make a statement that life is valuable and drivers need to take responsibility.”
Buntz said the Duke City Wheelmen will urge lawmakers next year to strengthen penalties for careless driving to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. They also will ask for license suspensions for drivers who carelessly cause fatal injuries for cyclists, pedestrians and others.
Svinarich is one of three New Mexico drivers convicted of misdemeanor crimes in recent weeks for traffic deaths that killed bicyclists.
Miranda Pacheco, 28, was convicted of careless driving and sentenced Nov. 9 to 90 days in jail for killing David Anderson, 56, as he rode on a bike trail beside Paseo del Norte in 2010.
On Monday, Gilbert Waconda, 58, of Laguna Pueblo pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the 2010 death of cyclist John Anczarski Jr., 19, as he rode in a cross-country charity event on Old Route 66 near Laguna. Waconda could be sentenced to up to six months in jail at a hearing scheduled in Feb. 4.
Svinarich told the judge before her sentencing that she thinks about Lane, 55, and his family every day as she drives past a “ghost bike” memorial at Osuna and Academy Parkway NE, where witnesses said Svinarich ran a stop light and struck Lane.
“There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about this,” she said. “I want (Kearby) to know that my thoughts and prayers were with her and her family,” she said.
Cindy Santistevan, a probation and parole officer who prepared the pre-sentencing report, told Sheppard that Svinarich appeared to show little remorse for her role in Lane’s death.
But Albuquerque psychotherapist Kevin Mains told the judge that Svinarich was “psychologically immature” and copes poorly with trauma, masking her genuine sense of remorse for her actions.
“The disadvantage to (Svinarich) is that she can appear to lack remorse, but that is not the case,” Mains said.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal