from the O’Conner Family

Sam has previously written about the hit-and-run death of 27-year-old, Patrick O’Conner. As cycling advocates and citizens of Northern California, stories like this one hit close to home.

This morning we received this press release from the family of Patrick O’Connor. The O’Connor Family is reaching out to the community for letters that might be used by the judge as he determines sentencing for Vanessa Carrillo.

I don’t want to comment on the character of Ms. Carrillo nor do I offer judgment on the O’Connor Family’s claim that Ms. Carrillo’s relationship with law enforcement has had significant impact to the handling of the case. Instead, I want to reiterate my opinion that negligent, illegal behavior that results in the death of a cyclist, pedestrian or other motorist should be treated seriously by law enforcement. As a cyclist, I do not see a significant difference between a death caused by a drunk driver and death caused by driving over the speed limit while using a cell phone. It is my hope that the judge considers how Vanessa Carrillo’s illegal driving behavior and her flight from the scene contributed to the death of this cyclist and sentences accordingly.

Press Release:

November 6, 2011

PLEASE write a letter to the Judge for Patrick O’Connor!
Stanislaus Superior Court
Judge Thomas D. Zeff, Court #5
Case # 1426693
800 11th Street
Modesto, California 95354

On November 1, 2011, the Stanislaus District Attorney decided to Plea Bargain this case instead of going to trial. As a major part of this process, the DA recommendation to the Stanislaus County Probation Dept. is to file a Pre-Probation report. This report will be submitted to the Judge Thomas D. Zeff, Stanislaus County Superior Court with a recommendation for sentencing. The Probation Department has requested we send the letters within the week so as to collect and file them in the court documents, to ultimately be read and reviewed by the Judge. If you send your letter to the judge, please email me a copy at this address ( that we may ensure your letter reaches the probation department.

We as victims of this tragedy have an opportunity to express how you feel about the Death of Patrick O’Connor. How has it affected your personal life, your family, your friends, either emotionally, mentally, physically in any way or aspect or outlook of you or your family’s lives. The tragedy in the lost of Patrick cannot ever be justified in our court system; however, this is our opportunity to tell the judge and make an impact on the legal process.

You may feel free to express your thoughts about this 22-year-old woman, Vanessa Carrillo, who hit, killed Patrick, and left the scene leaving him to die in the middle of the road. She has four prior “at Fault” vehicles accidents, four major traffic violations, two for high speeding. She was on her phone while traveling over 65 mph and had just sent a text message prior to killing Patrick, then fleeing the scene. Her phone behavior is an openly defiant choice she made knowing, it took Patrick’s life. She has a very cavalier attitude and feels that she is not responsible for this murderous act! Additionally, she has lied and given false information to the police as a means to prolong and avoid the repercussions of her actions. In the past several years Vanessa Carrillo has built up a relationship with local, law enforcement officers, specifically an intimate relationship with a deputy sergeant of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Dept. She has been on numerous all night ride-alongs with this local law enforcement department. This has been verified by the elected Stanislaus County Sheriff who openly admitted that his officers have “manipulated and interfered” with this case.

This is our chance to be heard and have an impact on this case. This is our opportunity to persuade our justice system to strike forth with the fullest extent against Vanessa Carrillo, whose incompetence and malicious behavior has cost us someone very dear to our hearts. She must be held accountable for her actions. We appeal to your moral principles of social responsibility, justice, and accountability as we humbly urge you to write a letter to the Judge expressing how you feel about Vanessa’s behavior and how Patrick’s death has affected you.

The DA has accepted a plea bargain in order to avoid a trial.

Please write your letter with a heading to Judge Zeff at the above address ref: case # 1426693 and sign your letter with your job title.

*Please share this with interested friends or loved ones.

With deep appreciation and thanks,
The O’Connor Family

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