Carlos Bertonatti, Driver Charged in Fatal DUI Hit-and-Run, Pleads Guilty

Man charged with DUI manslaughter in Rickenbacker Causeway crash in court

By Julia Bagg and Brian Hamacher
|  Tuesday, Feb 19, 2013  |  Updated 6:50 PM EDT
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Carlos Bertonatti looked straight into the faces of Christophe LeCanne's family Tuesday as he apologized for the hit-and-run crash that killed the cyclist.

Carlos Bertonatti looked straight into the faces of Christophe LeCanne's family Tuesday as he apologized for the hit-and-run crash that killed the cyclist. "The truth is that this was a freak accident and I'm really, really sorry," he said.

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'Ride of Silence' on Rickenbacker Causeway

Hundreds of bicyclists took to Rickenbacker Causeway Wednesday evening with a strong message: drivers are required to share the road. Wednesday night's "ride of silence" was meant to honor those who were killed or injured while biking and to raise awareness about bike safety.

Rickenbacker Causeway Bike Lanes Improved

Xavier Carville hopes things will be different on the Rickenbacker Causeway after Wednesday.Carville is a professional cyclist training for a competition in Stuart. He spends six to seven hours a day riding the causeway. Project contractor, Jackie Bermudez, talks about improvements to the bike lanes.
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The South Florida musician charged in the fatal hit-and-run crash that killed a cyclist on the Rickenbacker Causeway offered his first apology to the victim's family as he pleaded guilty in Miami-Dade court Tuesday.

Carlos Bertonatti said he had been waiting for three years to apologize to the family of Christophe LeCanne, who was killed in the January 2010 crash in Key Biscayne.

"I still find it very difficult to express the incredible amount of pain, the shame, the guilt, and remorse that I have experienced because of this," Bertonatti told LeCanne's family at Tuesday's hearing. "I want to let you know if I could trade places with Christophe today I would."

Bertonatti, 32, had been charged with DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident and resisting arrest without violence.

Appearing before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Bronwyn Miller Tuesday, Bertonatti pleaded guilty to every charge except leaving the scene of a crash.

Bertonatti, who faces a maximum of 35 years behind bars, told the judge last week that he would plead guilty in the crash, despite having no plea deal.

Police say Bertonatti, an on-the-rise musician originally from Venezuela, was driving his silver Volkswagen Jetta on the Rickenbacker Causeway when he hit the 44-year-old LeCanne, who was riding his bike in the bike lane.

Rather than stop, Bertonatti kept driving, with LeCanne's bike still under his car for nearly three miles before officers caught up to him, police said.

Authorities later said his blood alcohol level was .122, over Florida's legal limit of .08.

At Tuesday's hearing, LeCanne's parents said they still miss their son and want justice for him.

Bertonatti said he still thinks about the crash every day.

"There's no way to say it, I've made some really bad decisions and the biggest mistake of my life was to get behind the wheel of the car that day," he said. "I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to hurt Christophe. I never meant to leave him on the side of the road, that is not who I am."

His next court date was set for May 2.

"The truth is that this was a freak accident and I'm really, really sorry," Bertonatti told LeCanne's parents. "Accident or not, I want you to understand that I'm conscious to know that what I took away is irreplaceable."

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