Felony DUI plea brings 18-year sentence

YORK -- A Rock Hill man was sentenced to 18 years in prison Thursday after he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, killing a Lancaster motorcyclist and severely injuring two others in a May wreck.

Michael Walker Reid, 19, pleaded guilty to felony DUI involving a death and two counts of felony DUI involving great bodily injury in the death of 46-year-old Peggy Landry. The charges carried up to a 55-year prison sentence.

"You probably ought to be put in jail for 55 years for the severity of these crimes," Judge James Barber III said before sentencing. "You were drinking when you shouldn't have been. You were using marijuana when you shouldn't have been. You were speeding when you shouldn't have been.

"There has to be a punishment and a message that's sent to the people of South Carolina that you can't drink and drive."

Also injured during the May 24 collision were Ronald and Barbara Herring of Rock Hill. Ronald Herring, 55, suffered significant brain damage, while Barbara Herring, 49, received more than 200 stitches in her leg and head, according to court testimony.

Barber handed down an 18-year sentence for felony driving under the influence involving death to run concurrently with a 10-year sentence each for two counts of felony DUI involving great bodily injury.

Moments later, a tearful Reid, dressed in a white shirt and khakis, hugged his mother and father before blowing a kiss to other family members. Then officials led him out of the courtroom.

"I'm happy with what he got," Barbara Herring said after court.

Peggy Landry's fiance, Charles Bowers, said he was satisfied with Reid's sentence.

"I don't think it's really going to hit him until the clang-clang and he's sitting in there by himself looking at the bars," Bowers said. "There's no winners. I'll miss Peggy for the rest of my life."

Ronnie and Cindy Reid declined to comment after court, as did their attorney, Phil Smith.

Reid's charges stem from a collision on Lesslie Highway and Springdale Road, southeast of Rock Hill. Landry and the Herrings were riding Harley Davidson motorcycles northbound on Lesslie Highway to a nearby grill for dinner.

"There were three motorcycles that were stopped at that intersection," Deputy Solicitor Willy Thompson said. "The defendant approached going about 71 mph. He slams his brakes on, but it's much too late."

Reid slammed into the back of the bike Peggy Landry rode, Thompson said. Before the collision, he had been drinking vodka and Mountain Dew that he got from a friend's house, Thompson said.

"He then hit the motorcycle the Herrings were riding," Thompson said. "That motorcycle got trapped under his truck, and then it (the motorcycle) came out. They got dragged basically across the pavement."

Landry died at the scene.

After the collision, the Herrings were flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Bowers was not injured in the collision.

About two hours later, Reid's blood-alcohol level was .14, and he tested positive for marijuana, Thompson said.

In court Thursday, Cindy Reid asked for the court's mercy in sentencing.

"I know he made a very bad decision that day," she said. "I know he would never want to hurt anyone, much less take a life."

Then her son spoke, offering apologies to the families of the victims.

"I'm very ashamed of my behavior," said Reid, a former Winthrop University pre-law student. "Every night I close my eyes, I see the accident in my head."

The Herrings also live daily with the accident. Ronald Herring remains under a doctor's care and doesn't remember his home, Barbara Herring said.

"There's days he can do things and days he can't," she said. "He can't even count backwards from 20."

Then the court heard from Ronald Herring via video.

"He's messed my life up pretty much," he said of Reid. "I wish it hadn't happened. ... I can't go out and get on my motorcycle, and I miss that."

Still, the Herrings and Bowers said they forgive Reid.

"I accept his apology, but he has to serve his time for what he did," Barbara Herring said.

Bowers added, "You have to forgive. He didn't do it on purpose."

Reid remained in custody Thursday night at York County Detention Center.