Despite speculation that the quick verdict resulted from a plea deal, the 46-year old driver was found guilty of hit-and-run causing death in a two-day bench trial conducted by Vista Judge K. Michael Kirkman, after Fernandez waived his right to a jury trial.
Sentencing is now scheduled for September 12; no word on whether Fernandez will remain in custody until then. He faces a maximum of four years in state prison.
Swarzman, an experienced long-distance cyclist was riding in the Leucadia section of Encinitas with his fiance and another rider as part of a 600k sponsored by the San Diego Randonneurs when he was struck from in a violent collision; the driver reportedly sped off as Swarzman’s bike exploded.
Fernandez turned himself in the next day, reported saying he thought he may have hit something over the weekend.
Four years hardly seems sufficient for a crime like this, in which an innocent, well-loved man has his life snuffed out by a driver who was careless at best, and ran away without stopping to render aid or take responsibility for his actions; given the violence of the collision, it seems impossible that he was unaware that he had hit someone.
But at least we’ve got a conviction and his loved ones have some sense of justice, unlike another recent case.