ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WRIC) — An Alexandria man was sentenced to 30 months in prison last week for his role in a drug-fueled crash that killed his friend in May 2020.

Samuel Meyer, 22, was going over 85 miles per hour when his truck left the George Washington Parkway in Northern Virginia, flying through the air and coming to rest in the woods.

According to court documents that were verified by Meyer as part of his plea agreement, the day began ordinarily. Meyer and a friend, Michael Cunningham, were doing yard work and preparing to visit the Occoquan River that afternoon.

Another friend, identified only as M.L., noticed earlier that morning that Meyer’s eyes were bloodshot, which he believed was due to marijuana use. M.L. later returned to his own home.

After finishing their yard work, Meyer and Cunningham stopped at a 7-Eleven to buy beer, then went to M.L.’s house to pick him up and head to the river. Cunningham told another friend that Meyer had just “slammed” some beer, and when M.L. got in the truck, he noticed that several cans were missing from the two 24-packs of beer that Meyer bought.

M.L. told prosecutors that he didn’t normally wear his seatbelt, but put it on that day because as Meyer pulled onto the parkway, he was already driving too fast.

Both M.L. and Cunningham repeatedly asked Meyer to slow down, but he refused and laughed at the request, eventually reaching a speed of over 85 mph in an area with a speed limit of 35 mph.

When police reached the scene of the crash, there were beer cans strewn around the truck, and the passenger side of the truck, where Cunningham had been sitting, was sheered off completely.

“The accident was so violent that the front passenger door of the vehicle was embedded into a tree located a short distance from where the truck came to a stop,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing letter.

Cunningham was unresponsive, and died of heart failure on the way to a nearby hospital. He was 19 years old. Meyer and M.L. suffered only minor injuries.

A search warrant allowed police to take blood samples from Meyer, which showed that he had not only been drinking, but also using cocaine and weed. Investigators determined that Meyer had never even made an attempt to brake, keeping the accelerator on until the very moment of the crash.

According to prosecutors, Meyer lied to investigators in the hours after the crash, a fact they argued justified a harsher sentence of four years in prison.

“First, he said that he was traveling at about 45 miles per hour, almost half the speed at which he was
actually driving,” they wrote. “Second, he described that the accident occurred because after allowing
another vehicle to pass, he moved back into the right lane and hit a curb. Finally, ‘[h]e denied
having consumed any alcohol or narcotics that day.'”

Meyer’s own sentencing letter, which didn’t request a specific length of sentence, featured a number of letters from friends, family and community members asking for leniency and testifying to Meyer’s good character.

“They know the conduct at issue is inconsistent with who Mr. Meyer is at his core—an exceptional friend, family member, and member of society,” Meyer’s counsel wrote.

The sentence of thirty months was at the low end of the guideline range for his offense, but not below it, as was requested by Meyer.