Judge: No license for teen driver who hit, killed motorcyclist

May 04, 2011 04:00 am

GOLD BEACH – A 17-year-old Brookings honor student was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and had her driver’s license revoked for life on Monday for falling asleep while driving on Highway 101 and striking a motorcycle, killing the operator.

Sierra Nicole Rigel, who was convicted of negligent homicide, will be on probation as a ward of the court for a period not to exceed her 23rd birthday. She was fined $214 and will be required to pay restitution, to be determined within 90 days.

Judge Cynthia Beaman said that Rigel knew she was sleepy and should have pulled over and parked.

“I have found beyond a reasonable doubt she knew she should not be driving beyond that point,” Beaman said.

Oregon State Police said Rigel was driving a Ford Excursion southbound on Highway 101 near milepost 341 at 5:38 p.m. Sept. 15 when it crossed the centerline and collided with a northbound Kawasaki motorcycle operated by Danny Michael Nudo.

Nudo, 45, Gresham, was pronounced dead at the scene.

“There’s not much that can be said,” Chris Keusink, Rigel’s lawyer, told the court. “What has happened, has happened. It can’t be brought back.”

Keusink said his client is a member of the National Honor Society, president of the student branch of Rotary, on a committee for fundraising for a children’s hospital, and a member of a group which raises funds to feed the less fortunate.

“She’s a 4.0-plus student, because she’s taking advanced placement classes for college,” Keusink said.

He said she has already put in more than 300 hours of community service with those groups.

“She will have to tell prospective employers she will not be able to drive. She will have difficulty getting a job because of her lifetime revocation of driver’s license,” Keusink said.

“She’s aware restitution will have to be paid. This summer she will have to get a job to make payments on it,” he said.

Beaman told Rigel she knew “You’re not one of those kids doing drugs, doing things undesirable.”

The judge said that Rigel may be able to help others.

“If you can relay to other kids about how not to get into this kind of mess, maybe some good can come out of this,” Beaman said.

At the time of the accident, Nudo was wearing a helmet.

After impact, the Ford continued off the highway and hit a tree.

Rigel was taken by ambulance to Curry General Hospital for a precautionary medical examination and was later released. She was using safety restraints and her vehicle’s air bags deployed, OSP Sgt. Scott Punch said.

The crash happened at the south end of a highway work zone.

Keusink said Tuesday that an appeal was filed Monday to the Court of Appeals in Salem.

Under Measure 11, youths older than 15 are charged in adult court in some cases that would be felonies in adult court. Criminal negligent homicide, which would be a Class D felony in adult court, is not one of them.