DUI driver sentenced for bus stop crash

April 3, 2009 1:48:43 PM PDT
Two teenage girls who were injured when they were struck by a drunken driver's pickup truck at a Santa Rosa bus stop in January had no sympathy this morning at his sentencing in Sonoma County Superior Court.

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"I lost a lot of time out of my life because of his behavior," 13-year-old Cruz Pineda said about Michael Tweedie.

"My face is not the same. Sometimes I feel faint. I forget things from one minute to the next. I lost my teeth," she said through a translator.

She suffered head injuries and was in a coma at Children's Hospital in Oakland.

Her sister Deysi, 16, lost part of her finger and suffered broken bones in the collision Jan. 3 on Yulupa Avenue where the girls were waiting with their father Asefredo to board a bus for school.

"He shouldn't ask us to forgive him. We're not going to do that ever," Deysi Pineda said.

Tweedie, 35, of Rohnert Park, pleaded no contest Jan. 22 to two counts of hit-and-run, DUI, DUI with a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.08 percent and reckless driving. He also admitted his blood-alcohol level was 0.15 percent or above.

It was Tweedie's first felony DUI conviction. He has three misdemeanor DUI convictions since 1996. He also has misdemeanor weapon, drug and assault and battery convictions.

In return for his plea, Judge Elliot Daum said he would sentence Tweedie to no more than 10 years in prison. He sentenced Tweedie to nine years and eight months after Tweedie waived his 104 days credit for time already served in the county jail.

Deputy District Attorney Barry McBride asked for 12 years and eight months in prison.

Tweedie read a letter to the family in court this morning in which he apologized for the suffering and hardship he caused. But he said he got drunk after his speeding 2000 Ford pickup hit a parked van, veered out of control then rolled and slid into the two teens.

"My feet turned me away in shock," Tweedie said. He compared the scene to a roadside bomb explosion.

McBride said Tweedie is still denying he was drinking at 6 a.m. before the crash. Tweedie was upset and in a rage because of events in his life and he left the scene of the accident because he didn't want another DUI arrest, McBride said.

Tweedie was arrested that afternoon when he was found hiding in the area of Mission Boulevard and state Highway 12.

Daum said it is unlikely a jury would believe Tweedie's assertion he got drunk after the accident, but he said he would abide by his indicated sentence of less than a 10-year term despite Tweedie's "denial-style" acceptance of responsibility.

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