PROVO — A Provo woman charged with killing a bicyclist by hitting him with her SUV and pushing him into the path of an oncoming train was sentenced to jail Thursday.
Maria Fregoso-Avina, 49, was ordered to spend 210 days in jail for negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor, by 4th District Judge Derek Pullan in connection with the Feb. 15 incident that led to the death of Douglas Crow, 69. The judge gave Fregoso-Avina credit for the 56 days she has already spent in jail.
Defense attorney Lance Starr said the woman will then return to her native Mexico after being granted a "voluntary departure" in immigration court. The order is similar to deportation, but a voluntary departure leaves fewer obstacles for a legal return, Starr said, and was the reason the judge didn't order anything beyond jail time.
Fregoso-Avina pleaded guilty to the charge in March. Two additional counts of improper lookout and operating an unsafe, improperly equipped vehicle on a public highway, class C misdemeanors, were dismissed in exchange for the woman's plea.
"She was aware (Crow's) family was hurting, and that was her biggest consideration," Starr said. "She knew the family was hurting and didn't want to drag it out."
Investigators said Fregoso-Avina's windshield was covered with frost, except for a small circle in front of the driver's seat, when her SUV struck Crow, pushing him onto the train tracks near 700 West and 600 South in Provo.
"Maria felt that she had struck something but did not know what because she never saw anything. Maria had struck a bicyclist pulling a bike trailer, and the bicyclist was (dragged) onto the train tracks."
Fregoso-Avina was making a left turn when the railroad crossing arms went down behind her vehicle, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court. She told police she saw the FrontRunner train approaching and accelerated to get over the tracks.
"Maria felt that she had struck something but did not know what because she never saw anything," the affidavit states. "Maria had struck a bicyclist pulling a bike trailer, and the bicyclist was (dragged) onto the train tracks."
The conductor of the FrontRunner train saw "debris" on the tracks and initiated his emergency brakes but was unable to stop before striking the man. Fregoso-Avina remained at the scene, according to the affidavit.
Crow, an avid cyclist, had been stopped on his bicycle when he was hit. He died at the scene.
Crow often rode his bike to work, though he had taken that day off. He was set to retire this year after 30 years as a custodian at BYU, his family said.
Crow was the father of seven children and loved the outdoors, according to his obituary. He also loved collecting antique bottles, holding yard sales and writing.
Starr said there were "some very raw feelings on the part of the family" at the hearing, but that the judge handed down a fair sentence. It was not the maximum sentence available of one year in jail, but it wasn't the absence of additional jail time Starr requested.
"It was an accident, but the problem is that the results of the accident are so huge that they have to be taken into account," Starr said. "I think the judge did a fair job of trying to make sure there was justice for the family and fairness for the defendant."