MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The driver in a hit and run collision that killed a bicyclist on the Rickenbacker causeway appeared to be “under the influence” and “could barely walk” when he got out of his heavily damaged car minutes after the fatal accident.
That was the assessment of a security guard who wrote a report at Mar Azul condominiums after seeing 25-year-old Michele Traverso drive his heavily damaged Honda into the parking lot just before dawn February 15th.
Through his attorney, Traverso has admitted to driving the car that struck two cyclists who were in the bike lane on the causeway. Aaron Cohen, a husband and father of two, was killed; Cohen’s friend, Enda Walsh, suffered a broken leg.
Traverso, a student, continued driving to the condo he shared with his parents, despite his windshield being shattered to the point of being virtually opaque.
Security video released by prosecutors showed Traverso walking from his damaged car in the condo parking lot, appearing unsteady on his feet. The video shows Traverso and his father emerging to inspect the car. The dad at times appears to be helping his son walk. raverso is alternately combative and distraught. At one point he appears to speak angrily to his father, shoving the older man. A few minutes later, in the condo elevator, Traverso appears to be sobbing, and father and son embrace.
Later, both are seen returning to the car, Traverso’s arms are filled with a large bundle of some sort. When police located the car, it had been wrapped in a tarp-like cover.
Traverso’s attorney, Ray De La Cabada, issued a statement Thursday disputing the security guard’s assessment that Traverso had been drinking. The attorney said his client was badly shaken by the terrible accident he had just experienced.
“No one would walk normally under such circumstances,” De La Cabada said. “To assume that difficulty walking was related to alcohol is making a very bold assumption not supported by the evidence.”
Traverso turned himself in to authorities nearly 18 hours after the hit and run, too late to check his blood for alcohol at the time of the accident.
Sources close to the investigation told CBS4 News that police are using credit card, Sunpass and cell phone records in an effort to determine where Traverso had been all night, and whether he had been drinking.
Traverso remains jailed on charges of leaving the scene of an accident with serious injury.The charges will almost be certainly upgraded because Cohen, who suffered a devastating brain injury, died after being taken off life support the day after the accident.