Good news in the fatal hit-and-run collision that took the life of Encino endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman.
Or at least as good as we can hope for under the circumstances.
According to multiple reports, 46-year old Carlsbad resident Joseph Ricardo Fernandez was taken into custody after contacting authorities on Monday. The reports indicate that he called police investigators to say that he believed he may have been involved in a traffic accident recently.
Fernandez’ Dodge Ram 1500 matched the description of the suspect vehicle police released on Monday.
Swarzman was riding with his fiancé and another rider when he was hit by a pickup truck while riding in the 1300 block of Highway 101 in Leucadia around 1 am Sunday. According to witnesses, the truck drifted between the number one and two lanes before hitting Swarzman, who was riding in a well-marked bike lane.
In a heartbreaking story in the North County Times, his fiancé, Nicole Honda, says she was riding ahead of Swarzman when the highway became flooded with light, and she heard a crash behind her. Something flew past her and landed on the highway ahead of her; that something, the story implies, was the man she planned to move into a new Agoura Hills home with next week, and marry in August.
After investigators examined the vehicle, finding damage consistent with the evidence collected at the scene, including a headlight assembly, Fernandez was taken in for questioning. He was officially arrested at 11:15 Monday night, and scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court in Vista on Wednesday; he is being held on $50,000 bond while the investigation continues.
The reports of the arrest raise as many questions as they answer, such as how it could be possible for the driver to speed away from such a violent a collision without knowing he hit anything. It would seem like he would have to have been either sleeping at the wheel or very drunk — and even then, the impact from the collision should have been enough to get his attention.
Maybe he sobered up the next day and saw the damage to his truck. Or woke up after a good night’s sleep and put two and two together after hearing the news reports.
Or maybe he just heard the description of the suspect vehicle on the news, and realized that the police would soon be closing in.
In the end, it really doesn’t matter.
A popular local rider is dead; his family, fiancé and friends devastated by their loss. For whatever reason, a good man is gone, yet another victim of SoCal streets.
And by all accounts, we are all the poorer for it.
A memorial service will be held for Jim Swarzman this Thursday at noon at Mount Sinai Memorial Park, just off the 134 Freeway near Burbank and Griffith Park. The address is 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles CA 90068; (323) 469-6000.