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Driver In Deadly Rickenbacker Accident Sentenced

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(Source: CBS4) Michele Traverso in court on Friday, Feb. 17, 2012.

(Source: CBS4) Michele Traverso in court on Friday, Feb. 17, 2012.

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cheap eats 300x225aa Driver In Deadly Rickenbacker Accident Sentenced

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami area man who pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident on the Rickenbacker Causeway which left a cyclist dead and a second cyclist injured has been sentenced to 364 days in jail followed by two years of community control.

That’s after the state recommended a six-year prison sentence, plus five-years probation.

“At this point we are just happy that he has been sentenced for his crime and that this whole thing is over,” the victim’s widow, Patty Cohen, said after leaving the courtroom.

Cohen’s family asked the judge for even more than that at Traverso’s sentencing hearing.

“I think the sentence in this particular case, was an injustice,” said Stephen Cohen, the victim’s father.

The victim’s mother, Lynn Cohen, agreed “this man is a dangerous criminal who kills without a conscience… he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. His is a murder.”

Last September Traverso, 26, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident involving a death, leaving the scene of an accident with great bodily harm and driving with a suspended license.

Traverso hit and killed Aaron Cohen and injured cycling partner Enda Walsh as both rode northbound on the Rickenbacker Causeway in February, 2012.

In court, Traverso, 26, apologized to the family.

“I really am sorry,” Traverso said. “I did not mean for any of this to happen. I don’t know how to ask for forgiveness.”

Traverso left the scene of the accident and didn’t turn himself into police until 18 hours later. That made it hard for investigators to prove his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit, despite reports he was drinking in Coconut Grove the night of the accident.

Investigators said Traverso somehow managed to drive his heavily damaged car to his Key Biscayne condo where surveillance video shows him and his father covering it with a tarp after the accident.

At Traverso’s sentencing hearing, his father Juan Traverso, explained he was not covering the car to hide it, but told the court “I didn’t want anyone to touch the car. I was preserving evidence.” Additionally, he told the judge that by that point he and his son had already spoken to their  attorney and arranged Traverso’s surrender.

Cohen’s family has also  filed a lawsuit against Traverso and his father Juan Manuel Traverso, who owned the car he was driving at the time of the crash.

Patty Cohen thanked the dozens of supporters who showed up to honor her husband. Many wore shirts that said “ACE”, Cohen’s nickname.

Mrs. Cohen wouldn’t comment as to whether she thought the sentence was fair. She said her family was looking forward to moving on to the next chapter of their lives without her husband and father of her two children.

“Like I said, we’re serving a life sentence,” Patty Cohen said.

Many in the South Florida cycling community expressed outrage over the sentence. Some people have started planning a ride in Cohen’s honor.

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