A drunken motorcyclist who hit three bicyclists on Auberry Road northeast of Fresno last year faced 12 years in prison when he appeared Tuesday in Fresno Superior Court.
Instead, Patrick Wayne Holmes, 63, of Clovis, received five years in prison, thanks the forgiveness expressed by the victims, who suffered broken bones and teeth, and serious cuts and bruises.
One by one, bicyclists Lou Major, Kevin Emerzian and Richard Gabel told Judge Jon Nick Kapetan that it was not in their nature to seek vengeance or harsh punishment. But they all wanted Holmes to be punished because the July 25 collision was his third drunken-driving offense.
"I'm normally a pretty forgiving person because we have all done dumb stuff," Majors told Kapetan. "But we all are supposed to know right from wrong. He should not have been out there."
Holmes agreed, saying: "Everything they said about me is true. I thought I had this (alcohol addiction) behind me. I was wrong. I am truly sorry for what happened."
During the hearing, prosecutor Esmeralda Garcia wanted a longer prison sentence for Holmes. But she deferred to the wishes of the victims, who told Kapetan that they agreed with a five-year prison sentence, which prompted Holmes to thank them.
The collision happened just after 6 p.m. July 25. Major, Emerzian, and Gabel, all from Fresno, were riding in the bike lane north on Auberry Road, north of Copper Avenue, when they were struck from behind by Holmes, who was riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
All three bicyclists were taken to Community Regional.
Arrested by the California Highway Patrol, Holmes told officers that he had been drinking at a bar, but couldn't remember the name of the bar or its location. Asked how much he drank, he replied: "Too much. Way too much to drink," according to court records.
He spent two days in jail before posting bail.
While free on bail, Holmes sought help for his addiction and wore a device that detects alcohol in his system, said Fresno attorney Jeff Hammerschmidt, who represents Holmes.
In May this year, Holmes pleaded guilty to a felony charge of drunken driving causing serious injury.
The victims are members of the Fresno Cycling Club that routinely takes recreational bike rides.
In court Tuesday, Emerzian, who spent three day in the hospital, said riding bicycles is "an inherently dangerous sport" because of the large number of vehicles on the roadways.
Drunken drivers make the risk much worse, he said.
Gabel also talked about the risks. Before he was struck, he said, his wife, Hollie, wouldn't worry about him going on a bicycle ride. Now, she worries every time he leaves the house, said Gable, who spent four days in the hospital. He credited his wife for nursing him back to health.
Because the victims have sued Holmes in civil court, he was not taken immediately to prison. Instead, he was ordered to surrender to the court on July 3. This way, Holmes can give his deposition in the pending civil case filed by the victims.