Man sentenced to 4-15 years for throwing sandbag on car on I-96 last fall

A man with almost 20 years of criminal history was sentenced Tuesday afternoon after pleading guilty to throwing a pound sandbag off an overpass and hitting a woman as she was driving 70 MPH.

David Garcia appeared via zoom Tuesday afternoon for sentencing for the crime of assault with a dangerous weapon. He pleaded guilty during a court appearance earlier this year.

Cindy Eckley is fortunate to be alive after the sandbag was tossed over the Old Plank Road overpass in Lyon Township on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020.

Eckley saw a man standing on the overpass and was wondering why it was happening. As she got closer, her windshield smashed and she was somehow able to pull over on the side of I-96.

During Tuesday's sentencing, Eckley said it was nothing short of a miracle that she's able to speak and is still alive after what happened but says she has permanent vision damage after glass, sand, and rocks all hit her in the face. Eckley said this was an intentional act.

"The person who did this to me, this was not an accident. This was not something that happened out of a fit of anger. I saw him on that bridge, I saw him standing there, watching and waiting. Waiting for a victim. You can't tell me it was not an accident," she said.

Eckley said he timed it and waited for her car to pass under the bridge and asked for the judge to sentence Garcia to time in prison.

"He's an adult and this isn't some kid who made a mistake and was messing around. He wanted to hurt someone…and he did," she said.

Garcia was arrested originally for throwing objects at trains/cars causing serious impairment - a 10-year felony. 

Garcia's record seems to date back to at least 1993 and includes a number of charges including driving drunk, theft, felonious assault, domestic violence, possession of marijuana, and other things.

She also said that Garcia's misdemeanors have all resulted in a slap on the wrist.

Garcia apologized for what happened said if there was anything he could do for Eckley, he would do it. His attorney then advocated for probation for the 42-year-old man and the prosecutor's office asked for 47 months to 15 years in prison.

In the end, Judge Victoria Valentine sided with the prosecutor and sentenced him to 47 months to 15 years in state custody and ordered him to turn himself in at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 16.