Friends and family of the late cyclist Alan Deane attended the sentencing hearing of a driver whose car hit the 61-year old last year in Pasadena.
The driver, Siddhartha Misra, 30, pleaded guilty to reckless driving as part of a plea deal with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. He was originally charged with vehicular manslaughter.
Misra was sentenced to three years probation, 10 days of community labor and 400 hours of community service. The court ordered him to pay at least $4,000 in restitution and other fines and fees.
Fellow cyclists rode from the crash site to the courthouse Tuesday in Deane's memory. Many expressed disappointment with the sentence and penalty for the driver.
“I really feel like the whole issue of either having his driver’s license revoked or suspended should just be an automatic thing in a situation like this,” said Colin Bogart, education director for the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition.
Deane was riding east on the far right lane of Colorado Blvd. around 6 p.m. on Sept. 22, 2011 when he entered the intersection at Terrace Dr. The driver made a left turn and collided with Deane, who later died at a hospital.
Based on the direction in which Deane was traveling, peope believe Deane was on his way to attend a Crawford Family Forum event at KPCC in Pasadena, where he frequently attended public programs.
It was also Deane’s 61st birthday.
Deane’s aunt Anita ‘Cookie’ Berman cried as she read her statement to the court and to the driver.
“Alan lived a simple but principled life,” she said.
Deane was known to cycle everywhere he went. He slept in his car, paid to keep his belongings at a storage unit, and described himself as “homeless by choice.” At one KPCC event, Deane challenged the audience to think about whether life is about making money to buy nice things.
“What I do is live and I’m so much happier than I was when I lived in the apartment,” Deane said in August last year.
The sounds of sniffles and tears - including the defendant's - filled the courtroom Tuesday. Misra stood and turned toward the section of the courtroom where Deane’s aunt, uncle, son, and about seven or so cycling friends sat.
“This is a heavy burden to live with,” Misra said. He added that he and his wife have cried many nights talking and thinking about Deane’s death. As his voice cracked he told the group of family and friends that he couldn’t blame them if they end up hating him.
“I wanted my life to be taken away instead of his,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
Deane's friends and family accepted the apology and said they felt for the defendant. But some wished that the judge had imposed a stiffer sentence on behalf of all cyclists.
“It’s a shame that there isn’t more protection from cyclists on the road and the penalties don’t reflect that,” Berman said.