Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Woman spared jail in cyclist's death

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

FAIRFIELD - Her voice breaking, a Fairfield Township woman Tuesday apologized in a crowded courtroom for the accident that caused the death of a popular Trenton motorcyclist.

"I just want to say I'm sorry for what happened," said Christie A. VanWinsen, who appeared in Fairfield Municipal Court for sentencing on failure to yield and vehicular manslaughter charges in connection with a Sept. 6 accident that killed motorcycle rider Robert Bryant, active both in motorcycling and youth sports. "I wish I could make everything OK."

The woman received a three-year license suspension, two years' probation, 250 hours of community service and a suspended 90-day jail sentence. Judge Joyce Campbell also fined VanWinsen $850.

Bryant's family urged the judge not to send the woman to jail.

"I have struggled with what kind of sentence Christie should receive," said Emily Jackson, Bryant's daughter. "My father raised me to be compassionate and forgiving."

Dan Gattermeyer, VanWinsen's attorney, told the judge that the woman had never been in trouble before, was genuinely remorseful for the accident and was not reckless. He said the sentence was fair.

"It was nothing more than an accident," he said. "She committed a driver error that any of us could commit."

About a dozen motorcyclists - several wearing buttons featuring photos of Bryant - attended the hearing.


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