Boise & Garden City

‘You have destroyed an entire family,’ cyclist’s widow tells Boise driver

Denis Garner
Denis Garner

A Boise driver who struck a bicyclist in an early-morning collision last September — resulting in the bicyclist’s death a few days later — has been ordered to pay $90 in court fees for a traffic infraction.

Andrew Spidell was cited for not leaving a safe distance when passing a bicyclist in his Ford F-150 truck on Sept. 2, 2016.

Gary “Denis” Garner Jr., 50, died four days later. His death certificate lists acute hemorrhagic shock and a ruptured spleen caused by the collision as the cause of death.

Garner’s wife tearfully read a victim-impact statement at Spidell’s sentencing at the Ada County Courthouse on Thursday afternoon.

“You have destroyed an entire family,” Jamie Garner said. “My husband is not just another statistic. He was a husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, a friend, and I will not rest until justice is served and hold you accountable for the wonderful man you took from us too soon.”

Several of Garner’s family members, including his sons and grandsons, sobbed as Jamie Garner read the statement. Other family members submitted written statements to the court.

“I want this court and you, Andrew Spidell, to understand how important my dad was in my life each and every day,” Garner’s 14-year-old son wrote in his statement. “Now there is this hole in my life, my heart of complete emptiness. I was always with my dad. ... After school, we would hang out.”

Spidell did not address the Garner family in court. The judge acknowledged the family’s pain.

“There’s not a lot I can say that’s going to make you feel any better about your loss,” Magistrate Judge Michael Oths said.

Boise city prosecutors amended the charge against Spidell to misdemeanor inattentive driving. His trial on May 31 ended soon after it began when Jamie Garner revealed to the jury that her husband died in the days after the crash. Oths declared a mistrial. Garner had been warned before the trial not disclose that in her testimony.

The collision occurred before 2 a.m. Sept. 2 on Vista Avenue. Jamie Garner said her husband, who was riding home from a friend’s house that night, told her the mirror of the truck hit him.

In the opening statements at Spidell’s trial, his attorney said the collision was an accident that occurred in a matter of seconds, not a crime.

City prosecutors opted not to re-try the case and reduced the charge to an infraction for “failure to exercise due care.”

Jamie Garner said she plans to file a civil suit against Spidell.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

Idaho Stop Law allows cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign, and a red light as a stop sign. Boise Police Officer Blake Slater shows in the video how you can ride safely in Idaho.