Pro gravel and MTB racer Ben Sonntag was killed in March 2020 when an automobile driver ran over him going 65mph while Sonntag was training on a gravel road in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. On 3 December 2021, a Colorado judge sentenced the driver to prison.
Judge William Herringer sentenced Cordell Schneider to 3 years in prison for vehicular homicide. According to police that arrived at the scene of the crash, Schneider was driving 65mph in a 35mph zone when he struck and killed Ben Sonntag.
“I’m going to send you to prison, in part because I want to see if that shakes you in a way that you really begin to truly get what has happened here,” Judge Herringer said when sentencing Schneider.
Schneider was not arrested at the scene of the crash, but soon afterwards. After posting bail, he continued his reckless and careless ways and was involved in a single-vehicle motorcycle crash last summer. When police arrived, Schneider tried to evade police and flee the scene on foot.
For the motorcycle crash Herringer sentenced Schneider to 1 year in jail for violating terms of his original bail and 90 days for reckless driving. Those sentences will be served concurrently with his 3 year hard-time prison sentence for killing Sonntag.
At the sentencing hearing Schneider only said, “I’m sorry that I sped down that road, that I could not control what I did that day.”
The judge was not impressed with Schneider’s apparent hollow apology and said, “Your words today would carry more if they didn’t accompany your actions afterward. I find it really difficult to believe that a person who’s looking inside themselves trying to think about what they could have done differently would then do what you did behind that motorcycle.”
The 39 year-old Sonntag was a well known and respected member of the cycling community in Durango, Colorado. He moved from Germany to Durango in 2007 to attend and race bikes at Fort Lewis College. After winning multiple collegiate championships and graduating, he stayed in Durango to race professionally, most recently for Team CLIF Bar.
Sonntag is the second national level cyclist killed in Colorado this year. USA National Cycling Champion Gwen Ingles was killed instantly in May when a driver ran her over while she trained near Boulder.
PHOTOS: La Plat County Sherif, Team CLIFBar
Worldwide Gran Fondo and Gravel Event Calendar