Driver Accused in Cyclist's Death Has Criminal Past

Court records indicate Michael Reyes was not only on probation at the time of the crash but also was convicted of methamphetamine possession less than two months ago

The man accused of striking and killing a cyclist in Chula Vista was arraigned in his hospital room Thursday.

Michael Reyes, 29, has been undergoing treatment at the UCSD Medical Center Trauma Unit for injuries he sustained in the crash Monday near East J Street and Dennis Avenue.

Cyclist David Voigt was riding home from his job at the Sweetwater Water Authority when he was hit and killed by a stolen vehicle being driven by Reyes.

The impact of the Nissan Maxima was so great, it split Voigt’s bike in two, smashed through a utility pole and then split a tree trunk that was half the width of the car.

Chula Vista police say Reyes was drunk behind the wheel at the time of the crash.

During his arraignment, Reyes laid in a hospital bed in apparent discomfort, his bandaged left leg propped up at an angle. Through a public defender, he pleaded not guilty to charges related to the fatal accident that killed Voigt.

Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sontag did not allow any recording devices inside the small hospital arraignment at UCSD Medical Center. Reyes was ordered held on $500,000 bail.

Reyes waived the reading of charges during his arraignment by telling the judge “yeah,” when asked if he agreed. According to deputy district attorney Carlos Varela, Reyes is facing five counts including gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, car theft and possession of methamphetamine. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 15 years and 4 months behind bars.

Four of Voigt’s family members were in the hospital room during Reyes’ arraignment. A pool reporter inside the room said Voigt’s father said, “I want to get a good look at him,” and then shook his head.

The family walked out of the hospital but did not want to talk to reporters.

NBC7 has learned Reyes has a long criminal past and was on probation for a January drug conviction at the time of the fatal collision. During the arraignment, the prosecuting attorney specified three previous cases for the judge to consider at Reyes’ next hearing.

Reyes’ older brother, who asked not to be identified, told NBC7 the family is very sad about what happened Monday.

They extend to the Voigt family their very deepest sympathy, the brother said.

Court records indicate Reyes was not only on probation at the time of the crash but also was convicted of methamphetamine possession less than two months ago.

And there's more: Reyes' criminal history includes at least seven felony cases dating back just in the past ten years.

The suspect's brother does not excuse the behavior but said, "Michael has been going through many life difficulties in this last year."

Voight was a father, husband and an avid cyclist.

His death has touched many lives reflected by the sidewalk shrine that grows daily.
Wednesday night a ghost bike was chained to it.

The bike painted all white serves as a reminder of yet another bicyclist death in San Diego and as a quiet statement of support of every cyclist's right to safely share the road.

A readiness conference has been scheduled for Reyes for Mar. 20. His preliminary hearing date is set for Apr. 16. Neither the prosecutor nor hospital would comment on Reyes’ injuries or when he might be released from the hospital and transferred to county jail.

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