Sandbag thrower ends attempt at insanity plea as bits of glass remain in victim's eyes

Posted at 7:36 PM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-29 19:36:22-04

PONTIAC (WXYZ) — Six months after the horrifying ordeal, Cynthia Eckley still has bits of glass in her eyes. When she feels one has reached the surface, it's a race to flush her eyes with water to get it out before it can scratch the surface.

"I had a major piece of glass come out in January," Eckley told 7 Action News Thursday. "And that actually helped my vision a little bit because that's what was causing my double vision. I was looking through that shard of glass."

RELATED: ‘All of my skin feels like it was sandblasted.’ Woman injured after sandbag is thrown off freeway overpass

Unfortunately, that's the shard that cut her cornea. Thankfully, Eckley's eyes have recovered well enough for her to drive.

Eckley's injuries are from one night last October when she was driving home and David Vincent Garcia hurled a 40-pound sandbag from a freeway overpass. It hit the windshield of Eckley's Camaro, sending glass and dirt everywhere.

Bloodied and unable to see, Eckley was able to navigate her car to the side of the freeway and call for help.

She said it felt as if her face had been sandblasted.

Garcia walked away and eventually stopped a motorist and asked him for a ride home.

Garcia told the stranger that he had just dropped a sandbag off of a bridge and that it hit a car, according to Oakland County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jessica Blanch who told the court that Garcia went on to tell the man that he was drunk and that he doesn't like people when he's drunk.

The man said Garcia "seemed calm and proud of what he had done."

On Thursday, Garcia withdrew his attempt to claim he was insane at the time of the felony sandbag assault and, instead, entered a plea of no contest to multiple charges including assault with intent to do great bodily harm and malicious destruction of property.

Garcia's attorney told Judge Victoria Valentine that his client was pleading no contest to those charges because he has no recollection of the incident and that there was a matter of civil liability.

Unfortunately, Eckley said dealing with her vehicle insurance carrier, Progressive, has also been an unexpected nightmare despite the fact that the ordeal happened when she was driving on the freeway and involved her windshield being smashed and causing her injuries.

"They denied all of my medical on a legal technicality because, technically, this was not an accident. It was an assault. So, since I didn't crash my car after getting hit with the sandbag, nothing was covered," Eckley said referring to her medical bills and lost wages that Progressive denied.

"Since I managed to drive to the side of the road safely, without crashing, it wasn't an accident. All of my injuries were caused by the sandbag and the windshield," she added.

Eckley said it then became a fight with Blue Cross, "Because they were, like, 'Wait. It's a car accident. We shouldn't be paying this. We shouldn't be paying these bills. This was a car accident."

Blue Cross did end up paying her medical bills, but Eckley and Progressive are still in dispute about car repairs.

With Eckley's permission, 7 Action News reached out to Progressive for comment and information, but no one from the insurance company's public relations team has responded with information after indicating they were gathering details on the claim.

As for David Garcia, he remains free on a tether pending the outcome of sentencing which is scheduled to take place in June.

Eckley hopes he serves time in prison.

"His previous record, he kind of got a slap on the wrist for all that and it's just escalated to this," she said. "So, unless he actually serves time, he'll keep escalating until he kills someone."