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ROAD DEATHS

No trial for hit-and-run truck driver who killed a Spanish cyclist

Judge sees no indications of criminal behavior by man who did not stop after accident

A Spanish judge has ruled that a hit-and-run truck driver who killed a cyclist will not face trial.

The case dates back to October 21, 2013, when Óscar Bautista García, a 37-year-old father-of-two, was cycling to work along the A-42 divided highway in Toledo province.

At around 7.30am, Bautista, who was wearing a helmet and reflective clothing, was hit by a truck, which failed to stop after the incident. The cyclist was just 500 meters from his destination, a car repair shop founded by his father in Torrejón de la Calzada.

I love you, Oscar, and I will not rest until justice is done; I will honor your memory and make our two children proud that I didn’t give up”

Anna González López, widow

It was his own brother Luis who recognized the victim while a Civil Guard traffic patrol was still at the scene.

Civil Guard officers were able to identify the make of truck and immediately informed service garages in the area, asking them to contact authorities in the event that the driver should bring the vehicle in for repairs.

The strategy worked, and that same day they were able to arrest the driver, who denied any knowledge of having hit a cyclist. He was charged with negligent manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of four years, and failing to provide assistance.

The local judge in charge of the case issued an order dated December 14 reducing the investigation from a criminal inquiry to one for misdemeanors. The judge provided no arguments in her report explaining her motives. The victim’s widow has appealed the decision not to investigate the matter as a crime. The public prosecutor involved in the case has yet to make a statement.

Changes to Spanish law last year removed misdemeanors from the Criminal Code, making them a purely administrative matter, meaning that the truck driver will not face a criminal trial. At most, he can be required to compensate the victim’s family, says Francisco Parrés, the lawyer for García’s widow, Anna González López.

Parrés has appealed the judge’s decision, asking that less serious charges of manslaughter be brought against the truck driver, entailing a penalty of three to 18 months. “We’ll have to wait and see what the prosecutor thinks,” he says.

The victim’s wife has since lost her apartment and has had to return to her home town of Lleida, in Catalonia, where she has taken work in a hotel. Her lawyer says that aside from any compensation for the loss of her husband, she should also be compensated for the loss of the €2,800 a month that he used to bring home.

“I feel so much pain, I feel so unprotected by the justice system and by the law. Is this how much a life is worth?” asks the widow in a letter. "I love you, Óscar, and I will not rest until justice is done; I will honor your memory and make our two children proud that I didn’t give up.”