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Jefferson County jury awards $353M verdict in case against driver who killed bicyclist

Posted at 11:52 AM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-08 22:42:56-05

JEFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — A Jefferson County jury reached a $353 million verdict in the civil case against a driver who was sentenced earlier this year for killing Gwen Inglis, a well-known Colorado cyclist, in 2021.

On Tuesday, the six-person jury returned the verdict in the Michael Inglis vs. Ryan Scott Montoya case, according to Hottman Law, the attorneys office representing Michael Inglis, Gwen's husband.

"No amount can bring back Gwennie, but $350 million is a tribute to Gwen's amazing character," Michael said at the verdict on Tuesday.

Ryan Scott Montoya was sentenced on June 5, 2022 to eight years in prison after he pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the case of Gwen's death on May 16, 2021.

That morning around 10 a.m., Gwen, 46, a national cycling champion, was riding with her husband, Michael, in a designated bike lane on Alameda Parkway.

Around the same time, Montoya, who was 29 years old at the time, was driving back to town from Blackhawk. From behind the wheel, he was under the influence of alcohol, methamphetamine, Xanax and marijuana. He was also sleep-deprived. Montoya had previous convictions of possession and distribution of a controlled substance and a 2014 DUI. Ten days before that day in May 2021, he was charged with another DUI in Gilpin County.

As Gwen and Michael neared S. Indiana Street, just south of Green Mountain, Montoya drifted into the bike lane and nearly hit Michael, who was riding behind his wife, then drifted again and struck Gwen. She, along with her bike, were catapulted into the air and landed about 20 feet from where she was hit.

Montoya stayed at the scene and appeared impaired, according to the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs.

A forensic pathologist said Gwen's cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries.

In a statement published in The Denver Post the day after the crash, the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado said: “There are few words that can express the feeling of loss for any of our cycling community, and Gwen was a particularly special person. She was a multiple National and State Champion on the bike and very well-known across the cycling community in Colorado. Even more impressive was her character off the bike. Knowing Gwen, you would immediately be aware of her strongest qualities. She consistently brought joy into all her relationships, and she openly accepted everyone.”

Montoya was charged in May 2021 with vehicular homicide - DUI, vehicular homicide - reckless driving, infliction of serious bodily injury to a vulnerable road user, driving under the influence - second alcohol related offense, improper changing of lanes, and passing on the left improperly. He pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide - DUI on April 6, according to court documents.

During his sentencing hearing in June, Montoya apologized for his actions.

'It shatters us': Family, friends remember beloved bicyclist killed by impaired driver in Lakewood

"I desperately wanted her to live. I called the paramedics to save her. I wish they could have," he said. "My soul seeks forgiveness for an unforgivable act. ... However, I am accountable for my actions. It must be devastating. The grief you feel must be excruciating. ... I vow to get sober, clean, and never drive under the influence again. I want to live a good life in honor of Gwen."

The judge then sentenced Montoya to eight years in prison, plus three years of probation.

The same week as Gwen's death, two other Colorado cyclists were struck and killed by drivers, leading bicyclists to demand changes to make streets safer.