Criminal Justice

Driver takes misdemeanor plea after striking and killing judge on bicycle; should law be upgraded?

A distracted driver who veered onto the shoulder of a Utah roadway last year, striking and killing a bicycling district court judge, quietly took a misdemeanor reckless driving plea in May and is well into a six-month probation sentence.

Because there was no sign that David E. Bertelson, now 79, had been drinking or abusing drugs, the law did not provide for a more severe charge, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Bertelson was also ordered to pay a $670 fine. He had faced as much as six months in jail.

Gill’s office did not prosecute the case—which was ultimately sent to the Holladay City prosecutor—because the late 3rd District Judge Anthony Quinn sat on the bench in the jurisdiction. The DA said lawmakers are considering whether to potentially upgrade state law to provide for more severe penalties for such conduct.

An earlier Salt Lake Tribune story provides additional details about the accident.

Updated at 6:20 p.m. to clarify that Holladay City prosecuted the case.

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