Michele Traverso, the hit-and-run killer of cyclist Aaron Cohen last year on the Rickenbacker Causeway has received a sentence of less than a year in jail. The light sentence was imposed even though Traverso was driving on a suspended license; had left the scene of the crash and more importantly, abandoned Cohen at the scene of the accident; and only surrendered himself 18 hours later, after covering his car with a tarp to hide it from the police. However, despite records showing that he had been partying in Coconut Grove until the early morning hours of the day of the accident, his toxicology report came back negative, so manslaughter charges were never filed. Because of the long delay between the time of the crash and the time blood samples were taken, any evidence of alcohol in Traverso’s system would have disappeared.
According to miaminewtimes.com, prosecutors had asked Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge William Thomas for a six year sentence. However, the Judge may have decided on the lighter sentence of an additional 364 days in jail because of testimony that Traverso suffers from an autoimmune disorder that would be very difficult to treat in prison…Mr. Traverso will still have to serve another two years on house arrest after getting out of jail, but the Cohen family, as well as cycling advocates from around Miami, are infuriated. Patti Cohen, widow of the slain cyclist, told NBC6: “We’re serving a life sentence with what happened.”
Bear Cut Bridge Closed
To make matters worse for cyclists, the day after Traverso’s sentencing Miami- Dade County officials announced that cyclists may soon no longer be able to use Bear Cut Bridge to travel to and from Key Biscayne to Virginia Key. According to miamiherald.com, county officials worry that the bridge might be overwhelmed by traffic due to the Sony Open tennis tournament. To avoid this, officials are doing away with a walled-off pathway used by pedestrians, cyclists and joggers since the county previously shut down part of the bridge due to structural problems. Now pedestrians, joggers and cyclists will have to use the bridge’s northernmost lane, which is closed to motor vehicles. However, should the new bridge configuration be too troublesome for pedestrians and cyclists, the county may consider closing access to the bridge to those travelers, effectively limiting access to Crandon Park only to those traveling in motor vehicles.
Miami Mayor, Carlos Jimenez, told the Miami Herald last Wednesday that they “have to find a solution that works for the majority of people.”
County officials had closed the two westbound lanes earlier this month after they found structural damage that indicated the bridge could not support heavy vehicles. Later one of the lanes was opened to cars and motorcycles only, with trucks having to use an eastbound lane converted into a westbound lane. The tennis tournament organizers hired an engineer that recommended reinforcing the bridges’ exposed beams with bolted steel plates, which would allow for the opening of the bridge’s four lanes. However, Mayor Jimenez has said the plan would be good enough for maybe two or three years, but that after that they would have to do it over again and that the city’s engineers were not in support of the proposal.
Bear Cut Bridge is the bridge were another infamous hit-and-run accident occurred back in January of 2010. In that accident, Carlos Bertonatti ran over and killed cyclist Christopher LeCanne. Police then had to chase Bertonatti through the island with LeCanne’s bike still wedged under his car. Bertonatti has not been tried yet for his crime. He remains under house arrest. His trial is set to begin February 19 of this year.
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