Hit-and-run driver sentenced

Michele Traverso pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident with death

MIAMI – A judge sentenced a 25-year-old man who pleaded guilty in the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist on the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Michele Traverso was sentenced to 364 days in prison and two years of community control. He was charged in connection with the Feb. 15 incident that killed cyclist Aaron Cohen and injured cyclist Enda Welsh. 

"I did not mean for any of this to happen. I don't know how to ask forgiveness. I know what I have done. I know what I took from you is irreplaceable," Traverso said Wednesday.

"When Aaron was killed, I felt like I was killed. I just didn't die," said Lynn Cohen, Aaron's mother.

Police said Traverso was driving a car that hit the two men as they rode their bikes on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Witnesses said the driver never stopped. He later turned himself in to police.

Traverso said he fell asleep at the wheel.

"I saw him moments after the accident. He was not drunk. He was in a state of shock and panic," said Isabel Traverso, Michele's mother. "My son knows leaving Cohen unattended was wrong."

In September, Traverso pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident with death, leaving the scene of an accident with injury, and driving while license suspended unknowing.

The state was asking for a sentence of six years in prison followed by five years of probation. Prosecutors said Traverso had been drinking, but they couldn't prove he was driving under the influence without a blood alcohol content level.

Improvements were made to the bike lanes after the fatal crash.