Miami New Times: Cyclists Plan Memorial Ride, Protest at City Commission in Carlos Bertonatti Hit-and-Run
By Tim Elfrink in Bike Blog, CrimeWed., Jan. 20 2010 @ 9:02AM
On Riptide’s message boards and across the web, Miami’s bikers have raged about Sunday’s gruesome hit-and-run accident near Key Biscayne that left 44-year-old cyclist Christophe Le Canne dead on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Carlos Bertonatti, a wannabe professional singer and all-around horrific driver — with more than 40 citations in 12 years on the road — was trashed when he slammed into Le Canne after 8 a.m. and then sped away without bothering to stop and help, police say.
Plenty of that anger has been directed at Bertonatti himself, and with good reason. If the 28-year-old crooner did what police say he did — dragging Le Canne’s mangled bike for miles and leading cops on a chase to his parent’s posh condo — it’s impossible to justify.
But cyclists also say Miami-Dade’s mixed-up jurisdiction over the Rickenbacker is partly to blame. Medics took more than 20 minutes to show up and help the bleeding Le Canne, witnesses say. Dispatchers never called Key Biscayne firefighters, who were much closer, because the bridges are Miami-Dade’s turf.
Now activists have a plan to do something about it.
Cyclists are rallying for a county commission meeting Thursday afternoon about the Key Biscayne fire station. And for Le Canne, another group is planning a mass ride Sunday across the Rickenbacker to remember the fallen biker.
At Thursday’s city commission hearing, a special item on funding for the Key Biscayne firehouse has been added to the agenda, tentatively scheduled for 3 p.m.
Cyclists have been circulating emails, trying to amass numbers for a protest at the county commission. They want funding restored to the fire station, which was closed the morning of the accident owing to budget rollbacks.
It’s not clear whether a quicker response would have saved Le Canne, because witnesses estimated Bertonatti slammed into him at more than 60 mph. But Jose Diaz, a Pompano Beach paramedic and cyclist who tried to save Le Canne after the crash, tells the Miami Herald it might have helped.
“He needed to be transported immediately; he needed IVs and intubation to have a fighting chance. But he never got it,” he says.
The memorial ride in honor of Le Canne will begin at 9 a.m. across from Mast Academy on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The ride will stop at Bear Cut Bridge, where Le Canne died, according to the Miami Bike Scene blog, which is encouraging riders to bring flowers.
Bertonatti, meanwhile, faces charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, driving without a license, and resisting arrest.