Jail time possible in Rogers death | TheUnion.com

Jail time possible in Rogers death

A Chicago Park woman could face one year in Placer County Jail for the Jan. 31 death of cycling icon Jim Rogers, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A misdemeanor charge of manslaughter could be filed against Patricia Hernandez, 55, based on the investigation results recently sent to the Placer County District Attorney’s Office, said Gold Run CHP Officer Chris Wurster, who is investigating the incident.

“We’re putting the driver at fault in the collision exclusively,” Wurster said Monday. “We’ve been in a discussion with the DA’s office for a possible misdemeanor manslaughter charge.”

The charge does not include gross negligence and calls for a maximum punishment of one year in county jail, Wurster said.

Placer County’s district attorney will decide whether to prosecute, Wurster said. That office was closed Monday due to the Presidents Day holiday and lawyers were unavailable for comment.

Rogers, 53, and also of Chicago Park, was traveling up the steep, winding and narrow grade on Highway 174 from the Bear River heading toward Colfax when Hernandez’s vehicle struck his bicycle from behind, according to the CHP.

During the initial investigation, Gold Run CHP Commander John Arrabit said officers were looking at the possibility that Hernandez was using her cellular telephone at the time of the collision.

“We believe that may have been the case,” Wurster said, but the CHP could not conclusively prove it.

“We have some witness information putting the rider to the right of the roadway,” Wurster said. “There is no evidence saying he crossed the road or was out in the lane.”

The accident occurred in an area just past Oakhurst Lane where “there was a slight curve to the right with excellent sight lines,” Wurster said.

Should Hernandez be charged, it would probably be handled as a a complaint with an assigned time to answer in Placer County Superior Court, and not as an arrest, Wurster said.

A toxicology report from Rogers’ autopsy has not been completed, but investigators do not think it will reveal any signs of drug or alcohol use, Wurster said. Drug and alcohol use was also ruled out for Hernandez at the scene, he added.

Rogers was a well-known bicyclist who co-founded Tour of Nevada City Bike Shop as a teen in the early 1970s. He also participated in the Nevada City Classic bicycle race many times, and was an alternate for the 1980 Olympic bicycling team.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4237.

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