Driver in Fatal Rickenbacker Causeway Hit and Run in Court

Michele Traverso in court to face unrelated drug charges

By Hank Tester and Brian Hamacher
|  Friday, Feb 17, 2012  |  Updated 11:27 PM EDT
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The suspect in a hit and run crash on the Rickenbacker Causeway that killed a cyclist was in court Friday for unrelated drug charge proceedings. Michele Traverso, 25, appeared before Miami-Dade Drug Court Judge Deborah White-Labora for ongoing proceedings related to previous cocaine and marijuana possession charges. Traverso took a drug test at court, which he passed.

The suspect in a hit and run crash on the Rickenbacker Causeway that killed a cyclist was in court Friday for unrelated drug charge proceedings. Michele Traverso, 25, appeared before Miami-Dade Drug Court Judge Deborah White-Labora for ongoing proceedings related to previous cocaine and marijuana possession charges. Traverso took a drug test at court, which he passed. "There has been a lot of speculation about my client so in order to address that I ordered the most comprehensive test and he is perfectly clean," Traverso's attorney, Ramon de la Cabada said. "He was in rehab and was doing great."

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Cyclist in Rickenbacker Hit and Run Dies, Driver Arrested

Aaron Cohen, 36, who was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital following the Wednesday morning crash, died of his injuries Thursday, officials said. Miami Police say 25-year-old Michele Traverso turned himself in late Wednesday night with his attorney after officers found his badly damaged car. In bond court Thursday afternoon, the driving with a suspended license charge was dismissed, but Traverso was ordered held overnight on a separate marijuana possession charge. His bond was set at $10,000 for the leaving the scene of an accident charge and he will appear in court Friday to face the drug possession charge. “My client feels horrible about what happened,” said Traverso’s attorney, Ramon de la Cabada.

2 Cyclists Struck in Hit and Run on Causeway

One cyclist in critical condition, Miami Police looking for driver.
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The suspect in a hit and run crash on the Rickenbacker Causeway that killed a cyclist was in court Friday for unrelated drug charge proceedings.

Michele Traverso, 25, appeared before Miami-Dade Drug Court Judge Deborah White-Labora for ongoing proceedings related to previous cocaine and marijuana possession charges.

Traverso took a drug test at court, which he passed.

"There has been a lot of speculation about my client so in order to address that I ordered the most comprehensive test and he is perfectly clean," Traverso's attorney, Ramon de la Cabada said. "He was in rehab and was doing great."

White-Labora ordered Traverso held for 21 days. He'll be back in court on April 6.

"He has been a very good participant in drug court, I am very sad to see you here on many levels," White-Labora said during the hearing.

Traverso has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury in the Wednesday morning accident that killed 36-year-old Aaron Cohen.

Police say Cohen was with a group of cyclists who were heading to Key Biscayne on the eastbound side of the causeway when they were struck near the William Powell Bridge.

Cohen and fellow cyclist Enda Walsh were both injured and rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Walsh was later released after treatment for a leg injury.

Authorities said the crash left Cohen in critical condition, and his wife, Patti, had told NBC 6 Miami that her husband sustained a massive head injury.

On Thursday, hours after Traverso turned himself in to authorities with his attorney and after police located his badly-damaged car at a Key Biscayne condo complex, hospital officials said Cohen had died of his injuries.

Cohen, an experienced biker, Ironman competitor and marathoner also left behind two young children.

"He is the most precious thing in the world to his mother and it is with total disbelief that something like this would happen to someone who is so good, so honest and such a loving father," his father Stephen Cohen said Thursday. "I can't express what tremendous concern and hurt this is to me and all the members of our family."

"I can't begin to express how horrible my client feels for the family over this," de la Cabada said.
 
Traverso remains behind bars, and could face additional charges in the crash. But de la Cabada said there is no other crime.

"His crime here is that he left a scene," de la Cabada said. "That's it."

Cohen's friends gathered Thursday night to remember him at the bridge. Cyclists are also planning on gathering Saturday at 8 a.m. at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami for a memorial ride in Cohen's honor.

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