Rohnert Park man charged in hit-run accident
Published: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 5:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 8:51 a.m.
The Rohnert Park driver accused of hitting a professional cyclist and fleeing the scene was charged with four felonies Tuesday that could put him in prison for nearly a decade.
Arthur Ben Yu, 36, was in custody for his arraignment on charges of hit-and-run causing injury, reckless driving with injury, auto theft with a prior conviction and possession of a car he allegedly stole from his father.
Yu also was charged with a misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended license and was being investigated for a possible fifth felony charge of drunken driving, prosecutor Bill Brockley said.
“It's just another example of another person who has no business on the road,” said Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition spokeswoman Sandra Lupien, who attended the arraignment.
Yu, who was arrested one day after the Friday crash that injured New Zealand pro cyclist Michael Torckler, 25, postponed entering a plea until Tuesday.
He was assigned a court-appointed lawyer who said she would seek a change in his no-bail status.
Yu said little in court aside from telling Judge Robert LaForge that he was unemployed and needed a lawyer. He sat with his arms crossed and a hand on his face through part of the hearing.
Meanwhile, Torckler continued to recover from his injuries at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in fair condition Tuesday afternoon. Family members said he suffered major facial injuries.
The crash happened on winding Pine Flat Road, northeast of Healdsburg. Torckler was riding downhill and Yu was driving up in a 1996 Honda Accord, the CHP said.
Yu apparently swerved into the oncoming lane when rounding a turn and struck Torckler, knocking a mirror off the car, the CHP said.
A passenger in Yu's car got out to help Torckler but Yu fled. He was arrested at home Saturday after a roommate phoned authorities.
Yu faces a maximum of nine years, eight months in prison if convicted of the charges. His criminal record, which includes prison time, would mean enhanced penalties, Brockley said.
He said the car Yu was driving was stolen from Yu's father a month ago. Police were interviewing anyone who had contact with Yu that day to see if he was intoxicated.
Because he was arrested a day later there were no toxicology reports.
“We're contacting witnesses at the scene and witnesses who observed him that day,” Brockley said.
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