Just before taking a seat on a tandem bike he would ride solo to the Jefferson County courthouse on Tuesday to attend the sentencing of the driver who struck and killed his wife a year ago, Mike Inglis described how lucky he was to have been married to her for 13 years.
A popular and beloved professional cyclist, Gwen Inglis was killed by an impaired driver while riding on Alameda Parkway in Lakewood with Mike on a Sunday morning in May of 2021. Two dozen riders attended a memorial for her on Tuesday at Confluence Park before joining Mike on the ride to the hearing in Golden. News outlets also attended the memorial.
“It’s just brutally painful to have to come out and do these interviews, but I wouldn’t change that for the world,” Inglis said. “I was the luckiest guy, because I’m the guy who got to call her my wife. I’m the guy that had to go through that worst valley, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. You’ve got to go through the crud to have that life abundant. That’s what Gwen and I had.”
Gwen’s parents, her three siblings and other family members also attended. Her mother, Carol Erffmeyer, wore a T-shirt that said, “Choose Joy.”
“We’re just trying to remember Gwen,” said Erffmeyer, 75. “She lived her life with joy — Jesus first, others second, herself last. She filled our family with joy, and now there’s a missing link. We’ll see her in heaven some day. That gives us comfort.”
Following the two-hour hearing, Judge Diego G. Hunt sentenced Ryan Scott Montoya to eight years in prison. According to Brian Domingues, chief deputy district attorney for the First Judicial District, Montoya killed Inglis after a “48-hour bender” in Black Hawk and that he had methamphetamine, Xanax and marijuana in his system.
Before the sentencing, a tearful Montoya expressed sorrow and remorse to Inglis’ family.
“I wish there was something I could do,” Montoya said. “I pray that you can feel her love. I need you to know that I’m not all bad, and that what I did was not OK. When it happened I stayed on the scene, desperately wanting her to live. I told the paramedics to save her. I wish they could have. I am accountable for my actions. You must miss her terribly in every way. I am horrified by my own behavior. I want to live a good life in honor of Gwen. What I did was unforgivable.”
The hearing also included words from family members and friends, who described Inglis as a selfless and empathetic person.
“She was always putting others first,” said one of her sisters, Laura Schnyders. “She consistently prioritized other people and their needs. None of us ever imagined life without her.”
Schnyders, Mike Inglis and other family members asked for the maximum penalty Hunt could impose under the circumstances, which he did. Montoya pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in April and prosecutors agreed to cap the sentence at eight years.
“Gwen was somebody who loved people unconditionally,” Schynders said. “There were people in her life that she loved who made mistakes and made poor choices. She continued to love them unconditionally. She stood by them and encouraged them as they faced the consequences of their choices, but she never asked for those consequences to be minimized or removed, because Gwen knew consequences were necessary, that they were a catalyst for change. If Gwen were here today, she would continue to love unconditionally, but she would also ask for the full weight of the consequences to be (imposed) for the deadly decisions made.”
Inglis’ father, Gerry Erffmeyer, described the disbelief he felt when he got the phone call on May 16, 2021, informing him that his daughter had been killed on a bike ride. Erffmeyer, a pastor who lives in Illinois, had preached that morning and was on his way home from church.
“There are no words to describe the pain that we as a family feel every single day since her death,” Erffmeyer told the court. “She was in the prime of life. She was a person who loved life to the fullest. I’ve often said to people since she died that she lived a fuller life in her 46 years than some people in 80 or 90 years. Our hearts are broken.”
Erffmeyer said more than 3,000 people observed her funeral, either in person or online.
“My wife and I have been asked, how do you feel about Mr. Montoya?” Erffmeyer said. “We know he was impaired and that he pleaded guilty, but we do not hate him. We pray for him. We hope and we pray that his decisions will be different in the future, and that he finds true joy, a different way to live. We hope that can happen even as we mourn the death of the daughter we love so much.”
Montoya’s family acknowledged his drug addiction. His mother, Tiffany Cismaru, said she has been “crushed with sorrow” since she heard about the accident, that she grieves for Inglis’ family and prays for them daily.
“I feel a deep tragedy that my son took the life of someone so incredibly special,” said Cismaru, who raised Montoya as a single mother. “I’ve often wished it was me who died that day. … I would love the court to enable Ryan to turn his life into something productive, rather than throwing away another life on top of the loss of a life. Please find a way to help Ryan. I wish I could go back to the little boy he was, to work through the feelings he had growing up without a father, so he would never have to turn to drink or drugs to cope with life.”
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