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Driver in fatal cyclist crash gets 10½ years

SANTA FE, N.M. — The driver of a roofing company truck accused of killing a Santa Fe woman and another person when he plowed the truck into a group of bicyclists in Tucson, Ariz., has been sentenced to 10½ years in prison.

Brian Lynch

Pima County Superior Court records show that 30-year-old Brian Lynch had changed his plea to guilty on Aug. 1.

Last week, he pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of endangerment, and was sentenced.

According to authorities and toxicology reports, Lynch had methamphetamine in his system when he ran a red light in March 2016 and fatally struck five cyclists who were all in a bike lane.

Clare Rhoades

Clare Rhoades, 72, of Santa Fe, a retired nurse practitioner and avid outdoor adventurer, and Tucson resident Kenneth Vieira, 68, were killed.

Judy Costlow of Santa Fe was also among the injured.

The Santa Fe riders were part of a group on a Tucson biking trip with Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes. The bicyclists had stopped at an intersection to wait for a green light when Lynch, a driver for Scott Roofing, ran into the group with his work truck.

Costlow, Vieira’s spouse, and Rhoades’ spouse, Santa Fe attorney Richard Hughes, all filed civil suits against Lynch and Scott Roofing, headquartered in Phoenix. All three suits were settled for undisclosed terms over the past week or so.

The insurers of Scott Roofing said in court documents filed before the settlements were reached that they were “ready and willing” to pay $11 million – which the insurance companies say is the limit under their policies – to claimants “entitled to receive them.” The companies also said the claims against the roofing company “may exceed” the policy limits.

In late July, a judge ordered one of the companies to post $10 million with the court. A settlement would not necessarily be limited to what the insurance companies would pay.

In February, Tucson television station KVOA reported that Lynch’s former live-in girlfriend said in a court affidavit that Lynch used cocaine and that she had suspected he was using meth.

The TV station also says that, in an interview, the same woman said that Lynch would “drink and drive all the time.”

When he needed to get a commercial drivers license, the woman said, he was given a box of “synthetic urine” and that “his boss bought it for him so he could pass his drug test.” The woman said she was “positive” Lynch had made those statements.

Scott Roofing gave KVOA a statement that didn’t address the drug test matter. “Scott Roofing grieves with the victims’ families and the entire Tucson community,” the statement said. “Scott Roofing is committed to learning all the facts.”

Costlow said Thursday she couldn’t discuss the civil litigation. And she said she has “no memory of the crash or the next seven days.”

On Lynch’s criminal case, Costlow said,”I’m just glad it’s over and I didn’t have to go to a trial.”

“By the time he gets out of jail, he’ll probably be in his 40s, and hopefully he’ll have had time to get rehabilitated.” She said she was not out for revenge.

Costlow said she has mostly recovered from her injuries. “I have some residual stuff, and you never know what will happened down the line,” she said, adding, “I have a lot of metal in me.

“Basically, he took a year out of my life,” she said of Lynch.

But Costlow said she’s back to biking and hiking, and is the current president and ride director of Seniors on Bikes.