Larissa Jean Castilleja, 43, a Bullhead City High teacher was killed Sept 9, 2009 when a driver hit her and fled the scene.
This fatality bears many similarities to several of four recent fatalities in the Phoenix-metro area this past summer.
- the automobile driver hit-and-ran (all 5 incidents)
- DUI on the part of the automobile driver is suspected (at least 4 of the 5 incidents)
- time of day was overnight/early morning (ranging from 10pm to 4am)
- no improper actions on the part of the cyclist are suspected (all 5 incidents)
The suspect was later charged with manslaughter and leaving the scene, on Sept 28 he plead not guilty; and according to the Mojave Daily News, has secured himself all-star Scottsdale DUI lawyer Scott Maasen. In granting the reduced bond, the judge expressed reservations and then … did it anyway! It was also revealed in that story that the defendant has an outstanding warrant for DUI in Nevada, which he says he is not aware of.
The defendant plead guilty to manslaughter, leaving the scene, and DUI. Sentencing is scheduled for May 21, 2010. Case number S-8015-CR-200900986, online lookup.
The [mohavedailynews] had a pretty good rundown of the sentencing:
Judge Steven Conn sentenced Gagliardi to prison for 13 years for both felony crimes (8 for the manslaughter, 5 for hit-and-run), saying the two charges were separate crimes and deserved consecutive sentences. He only found a lack of criminal record as a mitigating factor and that Gagliardi also had about 20 moving violations, mostly for speeding. He found aggravating factors that Gagliardi’s blood alcohol rate was more than twice the legal limit and the emotional harm to Castilleja’s family. The judge also said he hoped the sentences would be a deterrent to people who visit the casinos and drink then get into their cars to drive home.
see also [kingmandailyminer].
Full text of Bullhead City Police Department Press Release (.pdf here , includes a picture of the suspect) is below. It is well written and contains a lot of salient information, e.g. it specifically mentions the time of the collision, and the fact that the bicycle was equipped with lights. My only criticism is the use of the term ‘accident‘ — which should, of course, of been ‘collision’, or ‘crash’
Fatal Vehicle vs. Bicycle Accident
The Bullhead City Police Department arrested 53-year-old Gino Salvatore Gagliardi of Fort Mojave, Arizona for leaving the scene of a fatal accident after hitting a cyclist with his vehicle. Manslaughter charges are pending.
At 4:12 a.m. on Wednesday, September 9th, 43-year-old Larissa Jean Castilleja of Bullhead City was riding her bicycle southbound on the Bullhead Parkway, near North Oatman Road, when she was struck by a 1983 green GMC van driven by Gagliardi. Castilleja was pronounced dead at the scene.
Gagliardi’s vehicle, which had front-end damage and a flat tire, was found abandoned on Adobe and Mountain Pass Road. Witnesses say he left the area on foot. A few hours later, police located Gagliardi at his Fort Mojave residence. After further
investigation, police believe that alcohol may have been a contributing factor in this accident. A blood sample was taken from Gagliardi and per the Mohave County Attorney, manslaughter charges are pending the laboratory analysis of the blood. He was booked into the Mohave County Jail in Kingman.
Castilleja was wearing a helmet and her bicycle was equipped with safety lights.