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Suspect in hit-and-run death of cyclist is freed on bail

The Miami Herald: Suspect in hit-and-run death of cyclist is freed on bail

As the suspect in the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist was freed on bail, Miami-Dade’s mayor vowed to probe why a faraway fire-rescue unit was called to the scene, causing a 15-minute delay.

BY ANDRES VIGLUCCI
AVIGLUCCI@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Carlos Bertonatti, the budding Key Biscayne pop musician charged with DUI manslaughter and a string of other felonies in the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist on the Rickenbacker Causeway, has been released on bail.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, meanwhile, addressed a rising furor over the delay of at least 15 minutes in fire-rescue workers arriving at the scene. The nearest station, on Crandon Boulevard, was closed at the time of the Sunday morning collision because of budget cuts.

Fire-rescue officials told Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4 that emergency dispatchers apparently did not ask Key Biscayne’s and Miami’s fire-rescue departments, which have closer fire stations, to send rescue teams. A December ``mutual aid’’ memo allows them to request help from one another.

Instead, Miami-Dade dispatched a unit from South Miami, 10 miles away, which arrived after the victim died.

In a brief statement released by his office, Alvarez said the county is reviewing its response as well as potential ways to improve safety for cyclists on the popular Rickenbacker bike lane.

``If it is found that standard operating procedures were violated with regard to emergency response, those involved will be held accountable,’’ Alvarez said. ``No one wants to see this happen again.

``My son is an avid biker and trains along this same route, along with thousands of other bikers and pedestrians. This issue is a personal and professional one for me.’’

Bertonatti, 28, posted the $100,000 bail set after immigration authorities on Tuesday lifted a detainer they had placed on him, said his attorney, Susy Ribero-Ayala. Bertonatti is a legal permanent U.S. resident.

``My client is extremely sorry for the events that took place Sunday,’’ Ribero-Ayala said. ``He is distraught and he recognizes the severity of it. He will live with this for the rest of his life, and he is ready to deal with the justice system and accept whatever consequences may be coming.’’

Miami-Dade police investigators say Bertonatti struck cyclist Christophe Lecanne from behind on the Bear Cut Bridge after swerving into the eastbound bicycle lane about 8 a.m. Sunday. Bertonatti then sped off, the victim’s bicycle still wedged under his car, until he reached the village of Key Biscayne, where he was arrested.

In an arrest form affidavit by Miami-Dade police on Wednesday, officers said Bertonatti, who reeked of alcohol and failed a balance test, refused to provide a blood sample after his arrest. Officers and firefighters strapped him down on a fire-rescue board and forcibly took a blood sample as Bertonatti continued to resist, the form said.