MERIDEN — The driver of a car that struck and killed a bicyclist last May in Wallingford was sentenced to four years in prison this week.
Derek Fries, 36, of 40 Pasco St., who pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle in January, was sentenced Tuesday in Meriden Superior Court. He struck and killed Donald A. Carrelli, 37, of Milford, on South Turnpike Road on May 25, 2019.
Judge Gerald Harmon sentenced Fries to eight years in prison, suspended after four years to serve, followed by three years probation. Conditions of the probation include no contact with the victim’s family and mental health evaluation and treatment. During the sentencing hearing, members of the victim’s family spoke, including his parents and two sisters. Fries and his sister also spoke, according to court documents.
Fries was originally charged with second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, DUI, possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Fries was driving a 2009 Honda Civic on South Turnpike Road just before 3 p.m. when the vehicle veered into the northbound lane and struck one of two bicyclists riding along the shoulder, police said. Carrelli was pronounced dead at Yale New Haven Hospital.
Carelli’s twin sister, mother and father also spoke at a previous court hearing. His sister said her brother was always there for her and the family and added that dashcam video showed “good people” rushing to help her brother after he was struck. She asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence of 10 years to keep Fries off the road and to act as a deterrent to others.
Carrelli’s mother spoke about how kind and gentle her son was and how proud Carrelli was to serve his country as a Marine. She said Fries took away the “heart” of their family and also asked for the maximum sentence.
At the accident scene, Fries told police “that he was high and had used heroin prior to the crash,” a search warrant said. Police seized two bottles of methadone, six capped syringes, two uncapped syringes, and items containing a powdery residue.
According to police, several witnesses at the scene “not only provided first aid, but also information about the offending vehicle’s actions prior to striking the bicyclist.”