SAN DIEGO (CNS) — A motorist who fled the county after striking a bicyclist in San Diego last summer — leading to the victim’s death just over a month later — was sentenced Wednesday to four years in state prison.
Mauricio Armando Flores, 30, pleaded guilty earlier this year to a felony hit-and-run count in connection with the Aug. 21, 2020, crash on West Washington Street that led to the death of 65-year-old Dan Sweeney.
Sweeney died Oct. 5 at UC San Diego Medical Center, according to preliminary hearing testimony and an obituary posted in the Coronado Times.
Police and prosecutors said Flores was driving a 2005 Dodge Caravan that struck the victim from behind, and said he fled the county without informing law enforcement of his involvement in the crash.
Video footage shot by a witness shows the driver of a van, which had Georgia license plates, pulling to a stop following the collision and getting out along with a female passenger.
In the video, the pair are seen walking over to where the injured man was lying on the side of the road. After looking at him for a few moments, the driver pulled the bent bicycle out from under the front of the van and set it aside, then got back into the vehicle along with his companion and drove off.
About one week after the crash, San Diego police posted Flores’ and his passenger’s names and photos online and asked for the public’s assistance in locating the suspects.
According to the California Highway Patrol, an off-duty Kern County CHP officer who had seen a flier about the hit-and-run case came across the Caravan while riding his motorcycle in Lake Isabella, an unincorporated community about 35 miles northeast of Bakersfield.
Three days later, another CHP officer spotted the van — now bearing Vermont plates — in a parking lot outside a Vons store in Lake Isabella and called sheriff’s deputies, who found Flores and his passenger and arrested them, CHP spokesman Robert Rodriguez said.
Sweeney’s obituary states he was a 1974 Coronado High School graduate, who is survived by his brother, sister and half-brother. In the obituary, Sweeney’s sister, Emma Sweeney Lewis, wrote that her brother had a “kind and sensitive soul.”
She wrote, “What did Dan care about? Helping anyone who needed help. Dan had friends from (Alcoholics Anonymous) who were homeless, and he would tell me about them. Dan saw the humanity and dignity in the marginalized and forgotten people. What a beautiful gift. I hope always to hold onto that and to make Dan proud of me for doing the same.”
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