LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Sandra Eagleson will never forget the last message she sent her husband.
“I texted him and was like, ‘Are you OK?’ And he never replied,” she said.
That night, on Oct. 19, Newport Beach police told her 30-year-old Shaun Eagleson had been hit by a truck while riding his bike.
She ran to the hospital, where an officer stopped her at the door.
“And I just said, ‘Just tell me he’s alive …’ He shook his head and said, ‘I’m so sorry,’ ” she remembers.
Eagleson never dreamed her husband’s favorite ride along PCH from Fountain Valley to Newport Beach would cost him his life.
“The moment I saw him I felt like I died, too,” she said.
Police arrested Neil Stephany, 23, on suspicion of driving under the influence, felony hit-and-run and possession of a controlled substance. KCAL9’s Stacey Butler reports it’s his second DUI in three years. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has charged him with murder.
“We believe in the D.A.’s Office that he has subjective knowledge, that his implied malice now. He’s putting others in danger when he drives and he knew better,” Orange County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker said.
The love of her life who gave up gluten to support her struggle against celiac disease; the uncle who shaved his head so his nephew wouldn’t feel alone in his cancer battle; the business owner who just launched an audio company in hopes of supporting his family — is gone.
“He’s missed by so many people,” Eagleson said.
And forgiveness is hard to come by.
“I know Shaun would want me to because that’s the kind of person he was. And I want him to be proud of me, but I don’t know,” she said.
In California, cyclist deaths are up almost 20 percent in the past two years, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
The OCDA is seeing a growing number of cyclists killed by drunken drivers.
“This case doesn’t stand out unfortunately from many because this is becoming a common occurrence,” Walker said.
Eagleson hopes her husband’s death serves as a cautionary tale to those who may consider getting behind the wheel while under the influence.
“I hope if anyone sees this, and they’re even thinking of drinking and driving, it’s not worth taking that risk,” she said. “That one choice could change someone’s life forever.”
The driver is being held on $1 million bail. He’s due in court Nov. 14.
Donations can be made to the Shaun Eagleson Memorial Fund via GoFundMe.