The day before, Fredy Reyes-Garcia had bought a 2003 Kawasaki motorcycle with his hard-earned cash.
He worked for his dad’s roofing business, attended Central High, had a girlfriend and had a baby on the way.
Then lightning struck.
As the 18-year-old rode his new motorcycle home at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, a 29-year-old drug addict crossed the center line of 24th Street and crashed into him.
The driver, Langston Perkins, and a passenger in Perkins’ car took off — leaving Reyes-Garcia for dead. He had been wearing a helmet but died from the force of the collision near Columbus Park Community Center, 1515 S. 24th St.
Police later found Perkins and the passenger at a hospital getting treated. Tests showed that Perkins had PCP and marijuana in his system.
For those actions, Douglas County District Judge Russell Bowie on Wednesday sentenced Perkins to 15 to 20 years in prison for motor-vehicle homicide. He had faced a maximum of 20 years. His prison term is cut in half under state law.
He also is awaiting trial on two counts of robbery and three counts of weapon use in an April 4 pharmacy robbery. Authorities allege that Perkins stole 473 pills of Percocet and 40 tablets of codeine while out on bail in the motor vehicle homicide case.
“It’s not surprising that Mr. Perkins is here today,” said his attorney, J. William Gallup. “He never had a mom and dad to raise him. He was in and out of foster homes. ... He developed a drug addiction. He’s suffered from these demons.”
The crash was a collision of worlds.
On one side was Reyes-Garcia, the outgoing Central High student with a job, a new motorcycle, a girlfriend and a baby on the way.
On the other side was Perkins — who had been virtually abandoned by his parents as a child, Gallup said.
Outside court, a woman who said she was Perkins’ mother acknowledged that she was a crack addict and said she had been abandoned by her own parents when Perkins was young.
“My mom put me out,” she said, refusing to give her full name. “It’s a cold world out here.”
Perhaps no one knows that more than Reyes-Garcia’s family. His mother and siblings declined to comment.
But his girlfriend’s mother, Carol Traudt, described Reyes-Garcia as a hard-working, outgoing young man.
Traudt’s daughter is expected to give birth to Reyes-Garcia’s baby girl in July.
“He was just all-around a good boy,” Traudt said. “He was happy and caring. He had just gotten that motorcycle — and was two blocks from home.”
For his part, Perkins told the judge that he is haunted by what he did.
“I’ve had nightmares,” Perkins said. “I’ve never been responsible for anything like that. It messed me up.
“I’m sorry. I really am. It was never intentional. It was an accident.”
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine and deputy county attorney, Cody Miltenberger, took exception to that.
There was nothing accidental about Perkins’ ingestion of PCP, a strong hallucinogen, Kleine said. Nothing accidental about his speeding in his Toyota Scion. Nothing accidental about his running away from the crash scene.
Witnesses to the crash said Perkins threatened them after they hollered for Perkins and his passenger, Michelle Plascencia, to stop.
Plascencia initially was charged with being an accessory. However, prosecutors say they dropped charges after she cooperated with authorities and gave a full account of Perkins’ actions.
Kleine called Reyes-Garcia’s death as random as a lightning strike.
“It makes you reflect on our mortality,” he said. “This isn’t something you can even prepare for. Driving down the street — you’re at someone else’s mercy. And then someone comes along and just wipes out a life.
“These cases are so sad.”
Traudt said Reyes-Garcia’s family has been reeling. So has her daughter.
“It’s just not fair,” Traudt said. “It’s not fair that you can take someone’s life like that — and then get out and run away.
“Just no regard for human life. He’s gone forever.”
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