A man prosecutors say left a Colorado Springs woman to die after crashing the dirt bike they were riding on the city’s east side last year was sentenced Friday to five years in prison.
Pedro Cruz-Quinones, 21, apologized in court, saying he never meant to harm Jacquiline Eva Wilde and he fled believing that she was dead.
“This is the worst mistake that I have ever made, and I wish every day that I was the one who died instead of her,” he said in an orange jail jumpsuit with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Cruz-Quinones pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in April under a deal that threw out a more serious count of leaving the scene of an accident involving death.
Under terms of the plea bargain, he faced a normal range of up to six years in prison, but prosecutors sought to double the maximum by arguing that Cruz-Quinones’ decision to leave without summoning help precluded any hope of her survival.
The sentence was imposed by 4th Judicial District Judge David Gilbert, who called it a sufficient punishment under the circumstances.
Wilde’s relatives, who believe that she could have survived had she received medical care, got up and left as he explained his decision.
“I don’t think it was just,” said Marie Cox, who helped raise her. “Jackie was a fighter.”
A public defender representing Cruz-Quinones said he deserved punishment but called the death an accident and that his decision to flee was uncharacteristic. According to the defendant, it was Wilde who asked to be taken on a dirt bike ride, and she and Cruz-Quinones, the driver, weren’t wearing helmets.
Wilde’s body was found Nov. 6 in a field west of the 3700 block of Astrozon Boulevard, police said. For days, she was believed to be the victim of an apparent murder, until a lengthy investigation determined she arrived at the trail as a passenger on a dirt bike, authorities said.
Cruz-Quinones was arrested Dec. 11, more than a month after the crash.
Wilde leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter who was left devastated.
“She’s angry and sad and depressed all the time, and it breaks my heart,” Cox said.
Wilde’s aunt, Barbara Tighe, held up a quilt embroidered with pictures of her niece, calling it a gift for the woman’s daughter.
“This is the only way she can have her mother,” she said tearfully.
In addressing the court, Cruz-Quinones said he wanted to call 911 but didn’t have his phone. He checked Wilde and said she didn’t have a phone. After checking for signs of life and finding none, he went home. After changing his clothes, he returned to the crash on the dirt bike but fled again after seeing someone approaching Wilde.
Authorities countered that he could have waved down a passing car, knocked on a door at random or taken some other step in hopes of providing life-saving care.
Prosecutors said they have no evidence that Cruz-Quinones took anything from the body or moved it in anyway, batting down suspicions by Wilde’s relatives that he attempted to make her appear to be a robbery victim.