Man pleads guilty to hit-and-run in San Diego bicyclist’s death

Local

Mauricio Armando Flores, who fled the county after striking a bicyclist near Lindbergh Field last summer, pleaded guilty Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021 to a felony hit-and-run count. The bicyclist, 65-year-old Dan Sweeney, later died of injuries suffered in the Aug. 21, 2020 incident. (San Diego Police Department photo)

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A motorist who fled the county after hitting a bicyclist near Lindbergh Field last summer — leading to the victim’s death just over a month later — pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony hit-and-run count.

Mauricio Armando Flores, 29, faces four years in state prison for the Aug. 21, 2020, crash on West Washington Street that led to the death of 65-year-old Dan Sweeney.

Though police did not publicly announce Sweeney’s death, testimony from Flores’ preliminary hearing late last year confirmed that the cyclist’s injuries proved fatal. He died Oct. 5 at UC San Diego Medical Center, according to testimony and an obituary posted online.

Flores is slated to be sentenced on March 24.

Police and prosecutors said Flores was driving a 2005 Dodge Caravan that struck the victim from behind, and that 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.

An obituary posted in the Coronado Times states that Sweeney was a 1974 Coronado High School graduate, who is survived by his brother, sister and half-brother.

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