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eric chan
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Cyclists Urge Boycott of Vail Over Hit and Run Leniency on 12/29/2010 22:07:52 MST Print View

rich morgan stanley banker gets off a hit and run that leaves a cyclist badly injured by claiming new car smell from his mercedes caused him to fall asleep

http://www.adventure-journal.com/2010/12/cyclists-urge-boycott-of-vail-over-hit-and-run-leniency/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+adventure-journal+%28adventure+journal%29

The plea bargain stuck. Martin Erzinger, the driver who hit cyclist Steven Milo near Vail, Colorado, then fled the scene, has pled guilty to two misdemeanors and been sentenced to a year of probation and 90 days in jail. The incident outraged the cycling community when prosecutor Mark Hulbert lowered the charges from felonies because it would adversely affect Erzinger’s job as a money manager for wealthy individuals. And while the resolution came in court two weeks ago, the dust still hasn’t settled, with a growing online movement by cyclists to boycott Vail.

Erzinger didn’t deny crashing into Milo in July 3 and leaving the scene without stopping to check on the cyclist. During the brief court hearing on December 15, he claimed to have “severe undiagnosed sleep apnea” and argued that fumes from the new car smell in his month-old Mercedes contributed to him falling asleep. After striking Milo, Erzinger drove in a ditch for another 265 feet before slamming into a culvert. He then drove to a Pizza Hut parking lot and called Mercedes assistance, not police.

Milo, a surgeon, was badly injured and continues to suffer severe headaches because of leaking spinal fluid.

Judge Frederick Gannett said the misdemeanor plea deal was reasonable and that it wasn’t his job to question the district attorney’s decision. He said there would be a danger in the court becoming an “instrument of second-guessing the separation [of government],” to which an editorial by the Vail Daily pointed out that his job is precisely to second guess and pass judgment.

“Eagle County has a district attorney more concerned about the defendant’s job prospects than appropriate prosecution, and a judge who believes the district attorney should do his job for him. Is there another way to understand this?” wrote the Daily.

Boycotting Vail seems unlikely to gather much steam — it is, after all, a mecca for cycling — but cyclists are pressuring the sponsor of the Quiznos Pro Challenge to move its stage three time trial out of Vail (Facebook page here).

“Something stinks in Vail,” cycling TV commentator Bob Roll told BikeRadar. “The ‘law and order’ DA throws the book at one and all except a hyper rich stock broker who was seen to run over a cyclist and leave him for dead?”

Roll is referring another notorious case prosecuted by D.A. Hulbert. In the 2009 Leadville 100 bike race, injured 40-year-old Katie Brazelton gave her entry number and credentials to 36-year-old Wendy Lyall, who raced and took second in the 40-49 age group. Lyall stood on the podium and accepted her award and didn’t admit to the deception until an anonymous tip outed her. Hulbert called the incident “something very serious” and sought felony charges against the two women. He eventually reached a plea bargain with them on lesser charges, and they pled guilty.