Man sentenced to 12 to 24 months in biker's death
A Durham County Superior Court judge sentenced a man to one to two years in prison Wednesday in last summer’s hit-and-run death of a bicyclist on Hillandale Road.
Maceo Christopher Kemp Jr. of Warren County pleaded guilty in the death of 36-year-old Seth Vidal of Durham.
Before sentencing, family and friends stood tearfully before Judge Howard Manning, remembering Vidal as a person who loved life and always tried to do what was right and to help people.
“I have lost the love of my life and my best friend,” Eunice Chang, Vidal’s domestic partner of 11 years, said through an interpreter.
Kemp, 28, pleaded guilty to felony hit-and-run inflicting death and driving with a revoked license – a charge stemming from a DWI case in Orange County.
Witnesses said Kemp hit his brakes and swerved after hitting Vidal shortly before 9 p.m. July 8 on Hillandale Road near Interstate 85, then drove away.
He turned himself in to police the next day.
Vidal was found in a ditch, and was pronounced dead at Duke University Hospital.
Family members said in court Wednesday that even as a child, Vidal would defend anyone who was accused unjustly. They said he always put his family first.
Shortly after the accident, friends remembered Vidal as a highly intelligent software engineer who loved to debate.
“Seth was a constant contrarian, and we would spend a lot of time arguing about things,” his friend, Beck Tench, said. “We had debates about life and death, about Durham and politics.”
Vidal, who lived on Woodrow Street in West Durham not far from where the accident happened, was a senior software engineer at Red Hat, a Raleigh-based computer software company. Before that, he worked at Duke University in the Office of Information Technology and Duke University Physics.
One online writer called Vidal a “leading bike and [pedestrian] advocate for Durham.”
“He was a dear man,” another wrote. “My heart aches.”
Vidal’s mother, Alicia Vidal, fought back tears as she spoke in court.
“I miss my boy,” she said. “When Seth’s life was taken, it took a big chunk out of my heart.”