A judge has sentenced Breanna C. Stewart, the driver in the January car crash on Union Road that killed 23-year-old Ryan McFall, to two years in state prison.
Stewart, 20, had pleaded no contest in August to the vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charge against her in connection with the Jan. 14 car wreck at Union Road and San Benito streets. Judge Steven Sanders on Thursday handed down the two-year prison sentence, which was the mid-term penalty for such a vehicular manslaughter conviction.
The accident occurred around 3 a.m. Jan. 14 as the two were returning to Hollister from Tres Pinos. The car, a 2009 Hyundai Sonata, was westbound on Union Road when Stewart – age 19 at the time and a local resident – lost control and crashed into a light pole at the intersection of San Benito Street, according to the California Highway Patrol, which investigated the case.
The car was severely damaged on the front-right side and all along the right side. McFall, a 2006 graduate of San Benito High School, was dead before responders arrived.
The CHP arrested Stewart at the scene – she was released on bail hours later – and later alleged she had a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Stewart accepted the no contest plea – which serves the same purpose as a guilty plea when it comes to a sentence – at an Aug. 8 preliminary hearing.
She was committed to authorities for incarceration after her sentence hearing Thursday and had one day credited for time served.
It was the result sought by several residents who submitted letters before the sentence hearing. They included letters from his mother, a brother, a godparent, his girlfriend of four years at the time of his death, and two long-time friends.
“Although the defendant is not a thief who robbed Ryan of his life,” read a letter from one of the victim’s brothers, Scott, “his death is a consequence of her decision to drive drunk, and her thoughtlessness caused immeasurable costs and irreparable damage to Ryan’s family and friends.”
McFall was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. At San Benito High School, he was an all-Tri County Athletic League pitcher for the Balers. Before his death he had moved to Sacramento, where he was studying electrical engineering at American River College.