Bicyclist pleads guilty to vehicular manslaughter

March 12, 2012 3:15:36 PM PDT
A 23-year-old man who struck and killed a woman with his bicycle in San Francisco last summer pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge today and was sentenced to three years' probation.

Dionette "Didi" Cherney, 68, suffered serious head trauma when Randolph Ang ran a red light and struck her with his bicycle on July 15, 2011 at the intersection of Mission Street and The Embarcadero. Cherney was taken to a hospital and succumbed to her injuries on Aug. 11.

Ang pleaded guilty today to the vehicular manslaughter charge as part of a deal with prosecutors. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Anne Boulianne sentenced him to three years' probation and ordered him to complete 500 hours of community service and pay $15,375 to the victim's family.

At this morning's hearing, e-mails from family and friends were read in the courtroom that shared their condolences and memories of Cherney, one of which called her "Mighty Mouse" because "she would always come in to save the day," Assistant District Attorney Sarah Hawkins said.

Cherney's daughter, Beth Harvey, showed pictures of her fallen mother to Ang to try to express the magnitude of her family's loss. "She was a mentor to many and an inspiration to all who met her," Harvey said.

Harvey and Cherney had planned a trip to Paris that was scheduled for last month. Instead, Harvey said, she is left to spread her mother's ashes.

"I am a shell of my normal self," Harvey said.

Ang faced a maximum sentence of one year in county jail, but Hawkins said Cherney's husband, Colburn Cherney from Washington, D.C., did not want Ang to serve jail time, saying, "It would not do anything to bring his wife back."

Ang's case will be the launching point for a community service program designed to educate cyclists about safety, Ang's attorney Tony Brass said.

Brass has said that the crash happened when Ang was hurrying to get to work on time.

"Mr. Ang is in a position to discuss with bikers road safety consciousness about pedestrians," Brass said. "So if he can serve as a symbol to sort of improve the situation with pedestrians in San Francisco, then there would be some meaning out of this very tragic event."

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