Who is Ricci Branca?
Branca was a 17-year-old Egg Harbor Township resident who liked to ride his BMX bike and work on cars with his dad, Ricci Branca Sr.
He was riding on Ocean Drive to Ocean City with four friends July 14, 2006, when Stephen French struck him with his car, injuring two other bicyclists riding single-file. Branca remained in the hospital for four days before dying.
His family has pushed for ignition interlocks since his death, with the goal of reducing the number of drunken drivers on the streets.
Shore Fellowship Church also named the parts shed at its Patmos Park center ‘Ricci's Shed' in honor of the avid bicyclist who had worked prior to his death to get the BMX and skateboard park at the church up and running.
Who is Stephen French?
French is a 57-year-old former real estate agent serving a 16-year sentence in Southern State Correctional Facility in Maurice River Township. He pleaded guilty in August 2007 to aggravated manslaughter and related charges for killing Branca, injuring two of his friends on Ocean Drive and fleeing the scene of the collision.
French, an admitted alcoholic, had drank at least 10 glasses of wine before leaving Romanelli's on Longport Boulevard in Egg Harbor Township before trying to make it home, according to his plea agreement.
His blood alcohol content of 0.339 percent when arrested was more than four times the legal limit of 0.08. Branca's mother said she would fight to keep French in prison when he becomes eligible for parole in January 2017.
What are ignition interlocks?
An ignition interlock is a small device, like a Breathalyzer, that is mounted to a car's dashboard. It requires a person to breathe into it, and if it detects a notable level of alcohol on his or her breath, it prevents the car from being started.
Some models ask for another sample at a random time later, a measure designed to keep a driver from having a sober friend exhale into the device while the driver is drunk.
The device is calibrated periodically to ensure it tests consistently, at a cost of about $75 to $100 per month.