Local News

Man pleads guilty in Durham bicyclist's hit-and-run death

Posted January 8, 2014 2:47 p.m. EST
Updated January 8, 2014 7:03 p.m. EST

— A Warren County man pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges stemming from the hit-and-run death of a Durham man riding his bicycle six months ago.

Durham prosecutors said during a hearing Wednesday afternoon that Seth Vidal, 36, was riding on Hillandale Road near Interstate 85 just before 9 p.m. on July 8 when Maceo Christopher Kemp Jr. hit him from behind with his car.

Witnesses at the scene told police that a dark sedan car swerved before hitting Vidal, slowed and then continued on Hillandale Road.

Vidal died at a local hospital.

Kemp, 28, surrendered to police the following day and pleaded guilty to felony hit-and-run and driving with a revoked license – a charge related to a DWI charge in Orange County.

"I pray that one day you'll forgive me," Kemp told Vidal's family.

Vidal's relatives had urged Superior Court Judge Howard Manning to sentence Kemp to the harshest sentence under the law.

"Maceo Kemp didn't accidentally get behind the wheel on a revoked license," Vidal's domestic partner of nearly 11 years, Eunice Chang, told Manning. "He wasn't unaware of the laws. He chose to drive on a revoked license."

Manning sentenced Kemp to 12-24 months in prison with credit for 183 days of time served and nine months of post-release supervision.

Noting that her client had neither been drinking nor speeding, defense attorney Shannon Tucker said Kemp was on his way home from work when he hit Vidal and was afraid.

"Maceo knows it was wrong not to stop," she said. "He was afraid, and sometimes, when people are afraid, they do stupid things."

Vidal's family acknowledged that Kemp didn't intentionally kill Vidal but said the loss has had a huge impact on their lives.

"I miss my boy," his mother, Alicia Vidal said. "When Seth's life was taken, it took a big chunk out of my heart."

Vidal, a software engineer at Red Hat, was an avid cyclist, according to friends. Relatives said he always stood up for what was fair and right and was always willing to help others.

"I have lost the love of my life and my best friend – someone who frequently made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world and made me feel loved," Chang said. "I do not think I will see his like in this world again."