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September 19, 2012

Driver pleads guilty in hit-run bicycle crash on Rickenbacker

A Miami motorist has pleaded guilty to the hit-and-run crash that killed a cyclist on the Rickenbacker Causeway in February.

A Miami motorist has pleaded guilty to the hit-and-run crash that killed a cyclist on the Rickenbacker Causeway in February.

Michele Traverso struck Aaron Cohen and cycling partner Enda Walsh as the two rode in the northbound lanes near the crest of the bridge. Traverso, driving on a suspended license, surrendered to police 18 hours after the crash.

Cohen died and Walsh was injured. Traverso, 25, on Monday pleaded guilty — with no plea deal. He will be sentenced next month in front of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas.

Traverso 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. He also pleaded guilty to a cocaine possession charge.

He faces a minimum of 22.8 months in prison, and a max of 35 years.

The fatality, and a similar hit-and-run wreck in 2010, has renewed calls for increased safety for cyclists and joggers on the popular causeway. Fellow cyclists staged a memorial ride and erected a billboard overlooking Interstate 95 in Cohen’s honor.

Though there were reports of Traverso drinking in Coconut Grove that night, investigators could not prove that his blood alcohol content level was above the legal limit because of the long delay in arresting him.

At the time of the crash, Traverso was enrolled in a drug treatment program after a previous arrest for cocaine possession.

Cohen’s family is suing Traverso and his father, who owned the car.

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