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Diaz de la Portilla Proposes ‘Aaron Cohen’ Hit-And-Run Act

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(Source: Anthony Gonzalez) A photo of Aaron Cohen who died in a hit and run accident on the Rickenbacker Causeway.

(Source: Anthony Gonzalez) A photo of Aaron Cohen who died in a hit and run accident on the Rickenbacker Causeway.

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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) – A measure in the name of Aaron Cohen, a triathlete killed when a driver struck him and drove off, has been introduced which, if passed, would increase the penalties of hit-and-run drivers who cause serious bodily injuries.

The “Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act,” introduced by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, would make it a second-degree felony for a driver who fails to remain at the scene of an accident that involves serious bodily injuries.

Also, the measure, if passed, will require the court to revoke the hit-and-run driver’s license for three years.

Aaron Cohen, a 36-year-old triathlete and avid cyclist, was struck while riding his bike on the Rickenbacker Causeway on February 15, 2012. The driver was allegedly drunk. Cohen sustained multiple injuries and was rushed to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. He lost his life a day later.

Under current law, it is already a felony to leave the scene of a crash that involves death. The act would impose a mandatory sentence of three years in jail if the driver responsible for the accident flees, seven years for crash involving serious bodily injury, and 10 years if the crash results in death.

Last September Michele 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 also injured Cohen’s cycling partner Enda Walsh as both were riding northbound on the Causeway.

Traverso, according to reports, was operating the vehicle with a suspended license, fled the scene, and turned himself in the next evening after calling his attorney rather than 911.

Traverso, in January of 2013, was 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.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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