A Tucson woman who pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol earlier this year is now facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of a bicyclist Friday night.
Melissa Marie Arrington, 26, was driving south in the 12600 block of Old Spanish Trail when her Chevy pickup hit Paul Amedee L'Ecuyer, said Pima County sheriff's spokeswoman Deputy Dawn Barkman.
Arrington is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, Barkman said. She is being held at the Pima County jail.
A preliminary breath test indicated that Arrington's blood alcohol content was 0.128, said sheriff's Lt. Karl Woolridge. The legal limit in Arizona is 0.08. A blood test was also conducted, and the results are pending.
L'Ecuyer, 45, was a longtime Tucsonan who recently participated in El Tour de Tucson and used his bike as his primary mode of transportation.
He was riding in the southbound lane when he was struck, Barkman said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
"We really loved him. We have the whole family here today, and we're telling stories'' in his memory, L'Ecuyer's younger sister, Anne L'Ecuyer, 35, said Saturday from their mother's home in Scottsdale. Her brother was one of five siblings and many step-siblings, she said.
Anne L'Ecuyer guessed he was riding to his home in Vail when he was hit. "He used his bike to go everywhere, and he was really proud of that,'' she said.
"He participated in a number of bike races including El Tour de Tucson,'' she said. "He was really excited because he just recently beat his previous record."
Barkman said L'Ecuyer hit the windshield of the truck and then landed in the back of the truck.
From the site of the crash, which occurred around 8:40 p.m., Arrington "traveled about 800 to 1,000 feet with him in the bed of the pickup truck'' before stopping, Barkman said.
While deputies were at the scene of the crash, another person suspected of drinking and driving barreled through barricades and cones that were set up, Woolridge said.
The driver, a 20-year-old man, struck an unoccupied patrol car, flipped and slid into a second patrol car carrying a Sheriff's Department volunteer, Woolridge said.
The volunteer was not injured, nor were two deputies and a forensic technician who narrowly missed being struck, he said.
The driver of the truck had to be cut out of his vehicle by firefighters and was flown to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The man has not been arrested because he was still being treated Saturday evening, Woolridge said. While breath and blood tests could not be conducted at the scene, the man was clearly impaired, Woolridge said.
"We could smell the alcohol on his breath; his speech was slurred, and there were other signs of impairment," he said.
In all, there were 22 others arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence Friday night during a DUI deployment conducted by the Southern Arizona DUI Task Force, Woolridge said.
Court records show Arrington pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in February, although details of that case were not available Saturday.
Arrington was also arrested in August 2002 on suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia.
She pleaded guilty, and charges were dismissed when she completed a diversion program, records show.
Anne L'Ecuyer said her brother was a "huge Wildcats fan" and never missed a game when they played Arizona State University.
"I think he was in the stadium for every game,'' she said.
Her brother worked in social services, she said.
"He was a really devoted humanitarian and spent most of his time working with people to help them,'' she said.
"He definitely lived a life that was devoted to really high ideals. The thing that he said over and over again is that we should treat each other with unconditional love."
Anne L'Ecuyer, who lives in Washington, D.C., said her family spent Thanksgiving together in the Phoenix area.
She last saw Paul on Saturday morning when she took him to a Phoenix bus station so he could catch a ride back home to Tucson.