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Distracted driver sentenced for death of Turlock woman and horse
Summer Gardner Vigil and horse
On Aug. 11, 2021, Summer Gardner Vigil, 19, and her horse, Riggs, were struck from behind by a man driving a truck on East Harding Road. Riggs died instantly and Vigil died three days later from her injuries (Photo contributed).

A mere moment of distraction claimed the life of Summer Gardner Vigil and her horse Riggs one summer morning while they were out on their daily ride. Almost two years later, the Delhi man who was behind the wheel of the vehicle that struck them has accepted responsibility for their deaths.

Isaac Leal, 29, of Delhi entered a change of plea and pled no contest to vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence for causing the death of Vigil and her horse.

Around 9 a.m. on Aug. 11, 2021, Vigil, 19, and her horse Riggs had embarked on their daily ride along the country roads near her Turlock home. A life-long lover of horses, Vigil had received Riggs as a gift on her 18th birthday.

The two were traveling in the westbound lane of East Harding Road near Golf Road when they were struck from behind by a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado, driven by Leal.

The impact caused Vigil to be ejected into the air and she sustained major head injuries. Her horse was killed instantly. Vigil was transported to a local hospital where she died three days later.

Leal told California Highway Patrol investigators that he briefly took his eyes off the road to put a cap back on his water bottle. When he looked up, he saw the victim and her horse right in front of him and was unable to avoid a collision. Leal believed he was driving 50 mph at the time. Although Leal had consumed alcohol the prior evening and had a blood alcohol content of .02% around the time of the crash, CHP investigators determined that Leal was not impaired at the time of the collision.

On June 28, in a negotiated plea agreement, Leal pled no contest before Judge Valli Israels to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.

During a sentencing hearing on Aug. 2, Judge Israels watched a video documenting the victim’s life and listened to victim impact statements from Vigil’s mother, grandmother, other family members and friends.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Israels sentenced Leal to one year summary probation, ordered him to serve 121 days in county jail with 120 days of jail time suspended, complete 220 hours of community service, attend a 6-hour Driver's Safety course and a 6-hour Alcohol Awareness program. Leal must also pay restitution to the victim’s family along with various mandated state and local fines and fees.