2017-03-17 / Front Page

Driver in fatal crash sentenced to jail time

2016 crash killed 20-year-old man
By Melissa Simon

TRAGEDY—Above, a photo of Cody Hoffman is displayed at the site of the crash that claimed his life a year ago. At right is 73-year-old Diane Reichick, who pleaded no contest to causing the March 2016 accident. She has been sentenced to one year in jail and three years of probation. ACORN FILE PHOTO TRAGEDY—Above, a photo of Cody Hoffman is displayed at the site of the crash that claimed his life a year ago. At right is 73-year-old Diane Reichick, who pleaded no contest to causing the March 2016 accident. She has been sentenced to one year in jail and three years of probation. ACORN FILE PHOTO A Simi Valley woman accused of causing an accident that claimed a young man’s life last year has been sentenced to one year in jail plus three years’ probation.

At her March 7 sentencing, 73-year-old Diane Reichick also lost her driver’s license for a year effective immediately and was ordered to pay an as yet undetermined amount of restitution to the family of 20-year-old Cody Hoffman.

Reichick initially pleaded not guilty Nov. 16 to felony hit and run and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, according to Ventura County Superior Court records. But at a Jan. 19 preliminary hearing, she changed her plea to no contest.

Courtesy of Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Courtesy of Ventura County Sheriff’s Office By pleading no contest, she neither disputes the charges nor admits guilt, and the plea allows the court to skip trial and proceed directly to sentencing.

The charges stem from a March 28, 2016, incident in which Reichick’s alleged reckless driving caused Hoffman to veer off the westbound side of the 118 Freeway between Tapo Canyon Road and Sycamore Drive.

His car went down an embankment and crashed into a tree, killing him.

Laurie Hoffman, Cody’s mother, told the Simi Valley Acorn her family has not yet decided whether to pursue a civil lawsuit against Reichick.

“How do you put a price on your child? No amount of money will bring Cody back to us,” she said, adding that her pain will never go away.

“I am having a very hard time (but) I manage to make it through the day without anyone seeing me crying or breaking down. Triggers set me off all the time . . . a song, photo, seeing a group of young adults having fun, a happy family, any recent holidays that remind us our son is not here.”

David Shain, principal of Ferguson Case Orr Paterson LLP in Westlake Village, who represented Reichick, said pleading no contest is essentially a guilty plea in terms of court records.

“It means that a person is not saying they’re guilty but that the evidence against them is sufficient that they believe if they were to go to trial, they would be convicted,” he said.

Still, Laurie Hoffman said her family is disappointed with the sentence.

“Her actions caused the death of our son. Punishment of only 365 days in jail and the loss of her driver’s license . . . is a slap on the wrist, in our opinion,” Hoffman said. “She should have received a longer jail sentence as well as lose her driver’s license permanently.”

Shain argued the sentence was appropriate based on Reichick’s circumstances.

“She is a 73-year-old woman in poor health. She doesn’t have any prior traffic violations and she hasn’t driven since the day of the accident,” he said. “Reichick has great sadness for the Hoffmans’ loss. From all accounts, their son Cody was a fine young man and this was a great tragedy.”

Reichick is set to begin her sentence April 11 and remains out of custody until then, Shain said.

The attorney has requested that Reichick be enrolled in the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office’s electronic monitoring program, in which she would wear an ankle monitor and essentially be confined to her home, except in certain situations like a medical emergency, rather than physically serve her time behind bars.

Shain said he has not yet received a response to the request, which was submitted to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

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