Motorist who killed Shifflett gets prison time

YAKIMA - Nearly five months after the automobile-bicycle crash that killed local school volunteer Ronnie Shifflett, the driver of the vehicle, Gerardo R. Maciel, 43, of Toppenish, pled guilty in Yakima County Superior Court.

Maciel was driving eastbound on North Avenue in a van when he drove across the westbound lane of traffic, hit the curb and drove into a mailbox post and a fence, according to Howard Hansen, Yakima County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney who was assigned to the case. A witness driving behind Maciel watched as he corrected, veered back into the street. According to Hansen, it wasn't until after the crash that the witness realized that Maciel had struck Shifflett, who was riding his bicycle, from behind.

"The car ended up in the middle of the road," said Hansen.

Shifflett was pronounced dead at the scene.

Maciel was intoxicated at the time of the accident, according to Hansen. A blood sample was taken after the crash and his blood alcohol level was .20, more than double the legal limits.

Pleading guilty, Maciel was sentenced to 31 months in prison with credit for time served. He was also ordered to pay restitution.

Hansen said Maciel can receive time off for good behavior. At this time the prison that Maciel will be house at has not been determined. Hansen said that Maciel will be taken to the Shelton reception center, where it will be determined where he will be held for the next two and a half years.

"This is the highest form of vehicular homicide," said Hansen.

Those convicted of vehicular homicide are sentenced to between 31 and 41 months in prison, he said. By entering a guilty plea, the prosecuting attorney's office recommended the lowest number of months he could be sentenced.

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