Nipomo family mourns 25-year-old's death in Hwy. 101 crash

Driver charged in fatal December accident plans to plead not guilty, attorney says

clambert@thetribunenews.comFebruary 11, 2013 

Bryden Reid

COURTESY PHOTO

Morgan Reid was vacationing in Cairo in mid-December when her mother called to tell her that her older brother had been killed in a car crash.

The two women cried, unsure of what to do next. Reid, 24, bought a plane ticket home, though it would take more a day to get back to Nipomo.

All that time, as she sat in waiting rooms next to empty chairs, sometimes talking to them, she felt Bryden Reid’s presence nearby — like he was escorting her home.

“The travel back home was incredibly sad,” she wrote in an email last weekend. “I thought about our mother and I, how lost we both are. We need Bryden, he made us family.”

Bryden Walter Reid, 25, died Dec. 11 after a three-vehicle crash on Highway 101 north of Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo. He was heading back to Nipomo after working for his father on a roofing job in Santa Margarita.

He was driving about 65 mph in the fast lane about 4:30 p.m. At the same time, another driver, 52-year-old Cynthia Alvarez, was driving about 60 mph in the slow lane, according to a CHP report.

She observed a big rig entering the freeway from the right shoulder at about 25 mph, causing the car in front of her to slow down. Alvarez decided to change lanes. She checked her left side mirror, but didn’t look over her left shoulder, according to the CHP report.

As she changed lanes, the left front of her Mercedes-Benz clipped the right rear of Bryden Reid’s Ford Ranger. The collision caused the Ranger to spin in a clockwise direction, and the driver’s side struck the rear of a trailer driven by Wilber A. Gonzalez Saravia of Salinas, the CHP said.

Bryden Reid, who was knocked unconscious, was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center and pronounced dead as a result of head injury and chest trauma at 5:40 p.m.

Alvarez, who also lives in Nipomo, has been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, which carries a sentence of up to a year in San Luis Obispo County Jail, prosecutors said. The CHP report states she was at fault for the collision because of an unsafe lane change.

An arraignment was originally scheduled for Feb. 4 but was pushed back to Feb. 20. Her San Luis Obispo defense attorney, Jeff Stein, said she plans to plead not guilty.

Alvarez didn’t cause the accident, he argued. Instead, the CHP report “appeared to ignore overwhelming evidence” that she was a victim of the crash, which was caused by Saravia’s “unsafe and aggressive entry off the shoulder and into a lane of travel,” Stein said.

Stein is currently looking for additional witnesses who can attest to what happened that afternoon.

“Cynthia Alvarez is deeply saddened by the loss for the Reids,” he said. “She is a thoughtful, careful, considerate person who was doing everything she could to cope with a situation that someone else created.”

According to the CHP report, officers determined there was sufficient space for Saravia to merge into the slow lane, based on statements from the involved drivers and witnesses, and his action was “not found to be a determining factor in the collision.”

Meanwhile, Morgan Reid and her mother, Aleen, are upset with the misdemeanor charge and wish the penalty was more severe.

They miss Bryden Reid terribly. He was born just 20 months before his little sister, and the two were so close in age they were sometimes mistaken for twins.

They grew up in Santa Margarita, moving to the South County when they were in junior high. Both graduated from Arroyo Grande High; Bryden in 2005 and Morgan a year later.

Bryden Reid later attended a trade school in Pittsburgh, where he studied to become an electrician. After he graduated about five years ago, he moved to Oahu, Hawaii, where Morgan Reid was then living.

He moved back to his mother’s home in Nipomo more than three years ago (his sister returned about a year ago) and tried to find work, sometimes taking handyman jobs and occasionally working for his father, who lives in Paso Robles.

Morgan Reid described him as a “humble, nice, hardworking man” and a “true gentleman.”

“He enjoyed company but wasn’t afraid of being alone,” she added. “He liked listening to other’s opinions and always tried to understand them and just expected the same in return.”

Morgan Reid, an aspiring artist, relied heavily on her brother’s opinion about her work.

“I don’t know how to live in this world without my brother,” she said.

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