Editor’s note: Use of obscenity in this story.
WASHINGTON — A Maryland man has now been sentenced after he ran a red light, striking and killing a cyclist last year near the National Mall because he was running late to work. A judge decided the father of two will spend 18 months in prison.
Before she issued her sentence, Judge Ronna Lee Beck pored through impact statements from the victim’s three children, his wife and colleagues, who remembered Thomas Hollowell as a beloved grandfather, an avid cyclist and passionate environmentalist.
“Tom was proud to have become a Beatles lyric,” the 64-year-old’s obituary read.
Hollowell was hit and killed by 20-year-old Phillip Peoples, who entered a guilty plea in November 2018 to manslaughter and leaving the scene, according to the sentencing report.
The statements from Hollowell’s family read as somewhat conflicted about what sentence to ask the judge to deliver.
“Accidents happen, but you expect a driver to show remorse for injuring another person … and not to leave someone in the street to bleed to death,” wrote Hollowell’s daughter, Andrea Hollowell.
“While I do not think three years of incarceration is too much for this crime … I do want Mr. Peoples to have a reasonable chance at redemption,” Hollowell’s son, Ashley Hollowell, wrote the judge.
On the morning Hollowell died, it was misty and gray, according to his obituary.
Peoples, who was running late to work, drove out of the 12th Street tunnel around 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 24 and ran the red light through Constitution Avenue Northwest. He hit Hollowell, who was cycling to work at the National Museum of Natural History, the report said, citing District Department of Transportation cameras and witness accounts.
After several days of collecting evidence, police tracked Peoples to his Suitland, Maryland, home through his license plate, and found his Honda Civic with body damage and a shattered windshield.
A search of his cellphone found Peoples had also sent a text message to a friend that day, saying he hit someone. “I just (sic) hit somebody bad my whole car fucked up. [A person] on a bike ran a loght (sic). It’s glass all over me,” the text read, according to the report.
Initially, Peoples denied causing the collision to investigators, but eventually submitted a guilty plea, agreeing to take a minimized sentence of manslaughter to run concurrently with his sentence for the charge of leaving after colliding.
In asking that Peoples receive the harshest sentence possible, Hollowell’s friends, who are also members of the D.C. cycling community, referenced his commitment to safety and a text message that never arrived.
As Rachel Maisler wrote, “Tom biked to work every day, from his home in Arlington, Virginia, and when he arrived at his workplace, he texted his wife, Carol Regier, to let her know that he made it to work OK. On that awful day, she never received that message.”