Chrystal Barber sentenced to 7.5 years for hit-and-run killing of Alex Hayden

Photo of Alex Hayden from a GoFundMe campaign set up to support his family.

Chrystal Barber, 51, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison after she pleaded guilty to striking and killing Alex Hayden, 50, with her aunt’s red pickup truck on Rainier Ave S last July. After veering into the bike lane and hitting Hayden from behind, Barber kept driving, dragging his bike down the Skyway section of the street.

Hayden was a photographer and father of two. His wife Susan spoke about his last day during the sentencing hearing, Neal McNamara at Patch reported:

When it was Susan Hayden’s turn to address [King County Superior Court Judge Laura] Inveen, she talked about the day her husband went out on his last bike ride. He finished up some household chores and then announced he was going to enjoy the rest of that sunny day doing something he loved.

Reflecting on the possibility that Barber could spend almost a decade in a jail, she told Inveen that she would gladly wait that long if it meant Alex would come back.

“I would like to keep my community safe,” she said. “Maybe she can’t get better.”

As McNamara reported from the hearing, much of the discussion concerned Barber’s history of alcoholism and five previous DUIs. She also has four previous conviction for driving without a valid license and one for driving without a required ignition interlock device. Though Barber denies being under the influence when she killed Hayden, she was not supposed to be driving at all due to her previous convictions.

Barber turned herself in and pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, which is sadly more than can be said for far too many people who injure or kill people on our streets and then flee the scene. Far too many victims and loved ones do not even get a chance to know the person responsible has faced any legal consequences for their actions.

But this conviction and prison sentence doesn’t fix what happened, and her history of DUIs and illegal driving highlights how ineffective our system is at preventing repeat intoxicated driving. A long prison sentence after a repeat offender has finally killed someone is too late.

Ninety months is about the middle of the normal sentencing range for vehicular homicide, a felony that could carry a sentence as high as ten years.

Our condolences to Alex’s friends and family.

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6 Responses to Chrystal Barber sentenced to 7.5 years for hit-and-run killing of Alex Hayden

  1. Gary Yngve says:

    Our car-dependent society has normalized traffic deaths in favor of car-driver selfishness/convenience. It’s the unofficial 2.5 Amendment: right to drive a car without regard for others. If we really cared about stopping DUIs (in the way that society cares about stopping terrorism), we’d be a lot tougher with mandatory addiction treatment, tracking/monitoring of repeat offenders, use of breathalyzers for ignition locks, taxpayer dollars toward subsidized/free taxi rides, etc.

    • StillRollin says:

      You can forget about stopping DUIs. The local prosecutors don’t even give a fuck when someone intentionally use their vehicle as a weapon.

      I was the victim in this case:

      https://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2011/11/30/man-charged-with-assault-for-running-down-person-on-bike-after-bar-argument/

      King County did everything they could to not prosecute the guy that hit me. Then when he got unsupervised probation, they allowed him to leave the country to Samoa where he got 2 years in jail for knocking 2 teeth out of a girls head with a beer bottle. Now he’s moved back to the Tulalip area, got married, and has never complied with any of the restitution orders the court gave him. Still owes me $300 for a new Mavic rim, tire, and cog set that I had to replace on my Stump Jumper.

      • StillRollin says:

        http://www.samoanews.com/court-report-77

        MAREKO LEMAFA ARRAIGNED IN HIGH COURT

        A man accused of striking a female with a beer bottle over a rosary was arraigned in High Court yesterday morning. Mareko Malaefono Lemafa, who is in custody on bail of $5,000 has denied the charges of second degree assault and public peace disturbance against him.

        On Thursday the defendant was scheduled to have his preliminary examination hearing, however the defendant waived his rights to that hearing in the District Court. Presiding over the matter was Chief Justice Michael Kruse.

        The assault charge, a class D felony, carries a jail term of up to five years, and a fine of up to $5,000, or both, while the PPD charge is a misdemeanor and is punishable up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

        Read more: http://www.samoanews.com/court-report-77

      • Ballard Biker says:

        Replace car with knife, gun, baseball bat, rock, pool stick, beer bottle, etc., and he would have gone to jail for (likely) second degree assault, for a minimum 1 year jail sentence, up to 10 years.

        But in America, a car can’t be considered a deadly weapon, even though they kill more people than any other weapon combined.

        That he is even allowed to drive a car again is a travesty, let alone all the injustice you unfortunately had to face.

  2. Pedro says:

    I feel very badly for Alex’s family. Condolences.

    Alex died on Rainier, in SE Seattle, aka Council District 2. If District 2 were a city, it would be – by far – the most dangerous city to bike in America.

    According to one source*, Albuquerque, NM is the most dangerous bike city in America – 5 bike fatalities, 560k people = 8.9 deaths per 1 million people.

    SE Seattle (District 2) has had 5 deaths in the past two years (2.5 per year), population of 95,000 people = 26 bike deaths per 1 million people.

    And it’s not just Rainier Ave. SODO, Georgetown, MLK and Int’l District have all seen bike deaths in the past 5 years.

    Life is good in America’s #1 Bike City.**

    * https://247wallst.com/special-report/2017/12/01/32-most-dangerous-and-safest-cities-for-cycling/8/
    ** https://sdotblog.seattle.gov/2018/10/10/seattle-ranked-1-best-bike-city-in-america/

  3. WA liberals are fake says:

    “The state Legislature is considering a bill that would make it a felony to have four DUIs in 15 years, rather than 10.”

    To put it in perspective Washington state has the most lenient DUI felony law in the country. Quite a few states have no look back period at all and most states with a look back period of 10 years or less it is applied to 2 DUIs. So even extending it to 15 years we will still have the most lenient DUI felony law in the country. But even 15 years is unlikely to pass due to strong opposition.

    It’s insane.

    We claim to be a progressive state yet we have the most regressive tax structure in the country, we have more lenient gun laws than Texas (and sheriffs who refuse to enforce them), we have the most lenient DUI laws in the country, we have the worst mental health care system in the country (we just dropped below Alabama), for five years we were the only state without a college savings plan, and we burn more coal than all of the other states on the West Coast combined.

    If we are progressive I would hate to see what regressive looks like.

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