By RANDI ROSSMANN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012
A Rohnert Park man suspected of driving into a bicycle rider on Petaluma Hill Road and continuing on his way stopped at a Penngrove area market for milk after the collision, reported the CHP Sunday.
An ongoing CHP investigation showed Robert Cowart, 68, went about his day after hitting Steve Norwick, 68, Friday morning causing grave injuries.
After the 8:30 a.m. collision, Cowart stopped at the Palace of Fruit on Old Redwood Highway and Ely Road for the milk purchase, said CHP Sgt. Cathy Miglio.
He then went to his well drilling business on Fair Street in Petaluma, where he was reportedly meeting people interested in buying his equipment as he was looking to retire.
Later Friday afternoon Cowart went home and backed his damaged truck into his driveway.
Two law enforcement officers who live in the neighborhood were outside when Cowart arrived home. They watched him park, with the damaged front end facing the street, and realized the Dodge Ram pickup appeared to be the one CHP officers were looking for in connection with the morning’s hit-and-run crash.
Cowart admitted to the officers he’d hit a bicyclist that morning but said he’d needed to get to work and had believed the rider was fine. He never reported his involvement in the collision, said CHP officials.
Cowart was arrested Friday on suspicion of felony hit and run. He was booked into the Sonoma County Jail in lieu of $30,000 bail and then released after he posted a bond worth 10 percent of the bail.
On Sunday Norwick remained in critical condition at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
He’d just retired after a 37-year career at Sonoma State University as an environmental studies professor.
He was riding his bicycle on Petaluma Hill Road Friday morning with another retired professor. They were headed for Penngrove where they routinely visited over a cup of coffee.
The crash occurred near East Railroad Avenue. Norwick was hit from behind and knocked down a drainage ditch.
One employee at the Palace of Fruit Sunday afternoon said Cowart has been a longtime customer at the market.
The employee, who declined to give his name, said CHP officers had been in, talking to employees.
“He was a regular here … He regularly comes in and gets milk and leaves,” said the man.