Richard Flores would have celebrated his 54th birthday recently.
But he’s dead, killed by Hollister resident Dolores Ortiz Garcia
because she was driving drunk.
Richard Flores would have celebrated his 54th birthday recently. But he’s dead, killed by Hollister resident Dolores Ortiz Garcia because she was driving drunk. I wonder how Richard felt that hot day in July on the way to the Hollister Independence Rally? What must it feel like to be laying shattered on the pavement, with one of your legs torn off and bleeding out from the stump onto the pavement? Probably didn’t take long to die though. But it took long enough.
Justice has declared that Ms. Garcia will do about 30 days in the county jail and then be eligible for house arrest or work release after that for eight months. She paid a small fine for killing Richard, and will get her license back and a chance to do it again in a few years. She could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison. I imagine, all things considered, Richard would still have swapped places with her even if she received the 10 years.
How does an outrage like this happen? Do we blame the judge who imposed the sentence? I know the Honorable Steven Sanders. He is a wonderful man, warm and compassionate and just. He is the man you would want for your judge if you were on trial. No, it was not Judge Sanders who was at fault here. However, a bleeding heart probation officer, Deborah Botts, recommended the sentence imposed and a gutless deputy District Attorney did not stand up for Richard, or his family, or us.
If the district attorney didn’t contest the sentence recommendation what was Judge Sanders to do? The sentencing recommendation by Ms. Botts took into account that Garcia had only killed Richard, and that was her first killing and that she was really sorry about it. But Richard is still very dead. He will be that way when Ms. Garcia gets her license back and when Ms. Botts makes her next sentencing recommendation and while District Attorneys Sarsfield and Candice Hooper continue their practices.
I thought hard about writing this since I am a member of the local Bar Association, but I just couldn’t get Richard’s story out of my mind. His wife and family deserve more. We all deserve more from the justice system. If you are outraged as I am, consider sending a letter to Deputy District Attorney Candice Hooper, or her boss, John Sarsfield at San Benito County District Attorneys Office, 419 Fourth Street, Hollister, CA. 95023. Or perhaps a phone call to his office at 831-636-4120 would be in order. Tell others. Write to the editors of the cycle magazines and your clubs and friends. Think about this during elections where you live.
Perhaps if we make enough noise over judicial tragedies like this, we can turn around the thought process of those who don’t put much value on the life of a motorcyclist. I feel the injustice deeply but am powerless to do anything about it except to bring it to the light of day on a national basis and out of our small community. Richard, I did what I could. Sleep in peace, my brother.
Thomas S. Brazier, Hollister
Editor’s Note: Judge Steve Sanders had discretion in the sentencing