NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A 28-year-old man charged in connection with the hit-and-run death of a Long Island bicyclist faced a judge Tuesday.
Police said Albert DiBernardo of Melville was behind the wheel of a vehicle that struck and killed 44-year-old bicyclist Ricardo Fernandez in Dix Hills.
DiBernardo was arrested Monday night and charged with leaving the scene without reporting an incident that involved a fatality.
In his first court appearance Tuesday, DiBernardo kept his head down. His family sat in the courtroom as a judge remanded him on $25,000 bail — far less than prosecutors had asked for — because he voluntarily turned himself in hours after the accident, CBS 2′s Kathryn Brown reported.
His attorney said DiBernardo had recently recovered from a broken leg and was “showing off” for his family by making a bagel run, but turned around to get a drink out of the back seat when he allegedly hit Fernandez and kept going, Brown reported.
“We have a young man who panicked,” defense attorney Tom Spreer said. “Obviously he did the wrong thing, he left the scene, but he panicked. He’s already acknowledged that to the police. He’s accepted full responsibility for what happened and he’s devastated about taking the life of another person.”
Fernandez’s brother, Jamie, did not accept that rationale.
“He should have stopped, no matter what. There’s no need to do what he did,” Jamie Fernandez said.
Ricardo Fernandez was found dead on the side of the road on Express Drive North around 10 a.m. Monday, police said. It is unknown what time the crash occurred.
His death came as a shock to family and friends who said the Amityville man was an avid cyclist who always wore reflective gear and a helmet.
Fernandez was riding a blue and orange Lemond racing bike and wearing a green, white and yellow cycling shirt and shoes when he was killed, police said.
Both families said they are devastated. One is left trying to salvage a life, while the other is trying to move on without their loved one.
“My son was a lovely man, good person, very good person. That’s all I can say,” said Ana Fernandez, the victim’s mother.
“I just gotta be strong for my family,” Jamie Fernandez said. “My brother’s in a better place now.”
DiBernardo pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday in Central Islip. He is due back in court on Thursday.
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