As a North Miami bicycle accident attorney, I was disappointed to read about the Jan. 17 death of a bicyclist in Miami-Dade. As the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Jan. 25, 2,500 cyclists gathered on the Rickenbacker Causeway Jan. 24 to ride in honor of Christophe Le Canne, 44, who was killed by an alleged drunk driver. Police closed the east lanes of the Bear Cut Bridge to accommodate the ride, then escorted cyclists across the bridge. Later, when the riders gathered to speak, they discussed laws that might prevent the same accident from happening again. Suggestions included divided bike lanes, stiffer penalties for aggressive drivers and more restrictions on drinking and driving.
Le Canne was on an early-morning ride along the causeway when he was hit from behind by a Volkswagen Jetta. The Jetta was driven by Carlos Bertonatti, 28, a pop musician with a history of traffic citations. Bertonatti allegedly failed to stop after hitting Le Canne, instead driving off with the bicycle under his front wheels. He faces multiple felony charges related to the accident, including DUI manslaughter. Witnesses said it took 15 to 20 minutes for emergency personnel to respond to the accident, but by the time they arrived, it was too late. This was blamed in part on reduced operating hours in the closest Miami-Dade firehouse, but also on the operator’s failure to call Key Biscayne or Miami firehouses. Other reforms on the bicyclists’ agenda include closing this gap in fire-rescue coverage.
As a Coconut Creek bike accident lawyer, I’m pleased that the cycling community is turning this accident into a call to make the roads safer. But for Le Canne and his family, it’s too late. Our society penalizes drunk driving harshly because it’s very dangerous, accounting for about a third of all fatal car accidents. If it’s proven that Bertonatti was intoxicated, he will instantly be assigned fault for the crash. And that will have important implications if the family chooses to pursue a lawsuit against him. If a blood test or a criminal conviction makes it clear that Bertonatti was too intoxicated to drive, he will certainly be liable for all of the physical and emotional damage the crash caused.