Driver pleads guilty for killing doctor riding bike near beach


A motorist pleaded guilty Friday to accidentally hitting and killing a Newport Beach doctor as she bicycled with her husband along Newport Coast, court records show.

Michael Jason Lopez, 40, of Anaheim admitted in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana to one felony count of injury hit and run and one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. He was sentenced to four years in prison and one year in county jail.

Catherine “Kit” Campion Ritz, 57, of Irvine died in the Sept. 15 accident on Newport Coast Drive.


Lopez, driving a black, full-sized pickup, fled the scene after striking Campion Ritz but was arrested three days later, according to court records and police accounts.

Campion Ritz died at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo.

She served as the president of Greater Newport Physicians for 18 years and practiced medicine at Newport Family Medicine.

At Friday’s court hearing, Campion Ritz’s husband spoke about the loss of his wife, according to a statement from the Orange County district attorney’s office.

“Catherine was many things to many people: physician and leader in the medical community, business leader, a church lector and family leader. To me she was my wife,” he said. “She was my confidant, my partner in adventure and my inspiration. There is an emptiness at home with no one to reminisce [with] about [the] past, to discuss the day’s events or to make plans for the future. The activities we did together I typically now do alone or not at all.”

Campion Ritz’s mother spoke of the pain of losing a child, according to the D.A.'s office.

“Her death was a tragic loss for all of us,” she said. “Without warning, she was gone and our lives will never be the same without her. I never expected to outlive my children, yet Kit is gone at 57 and I am still here at 87.”