LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB) - The driver who hit and killed a young bicyclist in Lancaster and then fled the scene pleaded guilty as charged on Thursday.
Twenty-four-year-old Michael Ettipio has pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, for the hit-and-run accident that killed 14-year-old Bryce Buchholz.
Ettipio struck Buchholz as he rode his bicycle along Lake Avenue in Lancaster. Ettipio's blood alcohol content was .24 percent, according to prosecutors - three times the legal limit.
Ettipio sped from the scene, leaving the young teen dead along the side of the road. A neighbor who witnessed the accident gave chase, catching up to Ettipio and bringing him back to the scene of the crime.
Ettipio's guilty plea brings some of Buchholz's friends and classmates a sense of closure.
Shyanna Ling said, "I wouldn't exactly say [I felt] happy [when I heard], but I felt better."
Angela Delotto added, "There's that big sigh of relief... He respected what he did enough, to own up to what he did. So that's good."
Stephanie Mazur commented, "It makes me feel a little better, knowing that he admitted that he did something wrong, and that it hurt so many people."
Ettipio's attorney, Michael Mohun, tells News 4 that his client "has accepted responsibility for his actions, and wants nothing more than to try and bring peace to Bryce Buchholz's loved ones." Mohun adds that Ettipio feels "deepest remorse and sorrow."
Mazur has never lost a friend to drunk driving before this. Buchholz's death, she says, has affected all his peers in a very profound way.
"I hope it impacts so many people's lives, or gets the message across that this is what can happen, and [drunk driving] just needs to stop," she said.
Ling added, "Everybody's dealing with it in their own ways. And my way of dealing with it is knowing that [Bryce] is here, and that he's with me, and that he's looking down on me."
Michael Ettipio faces five to 15 years in jail when he is sentenced in September.
Below is the full statement from Ettipio's attorney:
"Michael Ettipio's decision to plead guilty today was no surprise to those who know and love him. They've seen how devastated he is by the pain and suffering he's caused the Buchholz family, and they've seen how deeply he wants to try and make amends. This young man has accepted responsibility for his actions, and wants nothing more than to try and bring peace to Bryce Buchholz's loved ones. He continues to express his deepest remorse and sorrow for what he's done, and he prays that in time the Buchholz family will find peace."
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