◼ Man sentenced to one year for bicyclist's death
Hoopa resident Alan Bear pleaded no contest Thursday to his involvement in the collision that killed a Blue Lake bicyclist last year and was sentenced to one year in jail.
More than two dozen family members and friends of 42-year-old victim Gregory Jennings came to court to witness Bear's sentencing. Bear received one year in county jail with three years probation upon his release.
Bear pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, providing false information to a police officer and making an unsafe lane movement in connection with the collision that killed Jennings on Aug. 25, 2008....
...”I express my deepest apologies for what I've done ...,” he said. “It was a tragic accident.”
Bear began to choke up with emotion about halfway through his statement. He said Jennings' death has greatly impacted him.
”I don't sleep well at night and my whole life ... is messed up,” he said....
Five of Jennings' family members and one witness to the collision made statements to the court.
Gregory Jennings' stepmother, Terri Jennings, said she was in court in place of Jennings' mother, who was having surgery that day. Terri Jennings told the court that her stepson was someone people turned to for advice and who “cared about everyone.”
”He was loved beyond description and it's not an exaggeration that it's devastated our entire family,” she said.
Gregory Jennings was a Humboldt State University graduate who became a botanist and built a house that his father designed, Terri Jennings said.
Rebecca Perry told the court she was driving right behind Bear when he struck Jennings. She was with her two children, ages 10 and 7, and her husband at the time. Perry said her children have been traumatized by the experience.
”They have had trouble getting back on their bikes because of this incident ...,” she said. “When we look at the pictures of the first day of school, it brings back bad memories.”
Even when the family's vehicle passes by a bicyclist, the children panic, she said.