Lincoln Place man pleads guilty to critically injuring bicyclist in hit-and-run in Lawrenceville
Bruised and broken from head to toe, Dan Yablonsky looked forward to getting back on his bike.
“When I started riding again ... that was the big pie in the sky,” said Yablonsky, 25, of Larimer. “It was such a surreal experience.”
The driver of the black Jeep Wrangler who struck Yablonsky while he was riding his bicycle on May 13, 2012, pleaded guilty Thursday to two felony charges related to the crash.
Beau Fishinger, 31, of Lincoln Place agreed to a plea deal that calls for Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski to sentence him next week to 12 to 24 months in prison. His sentence will run consecutive to the 2½- to five-year sentence that a judge imposed in January for violating the terms of his probation on previous charges.
Fishinger will serve seven years on probation after he gets out of prison. He was ordered to pay about $60,000 in fines and restitution.
“I appreciate that the judge and the (criminal justice) system looked at this not as an accident, but for what it was — an assault,” Yablonsky said on Thursday.
Police said Yablonsky and two friends were riding their bikes from Bloomfield to the Strip District about 2:30 a.m. on May 13 when Fishinger struck him head-on while attempting to turn left from Liberty Avenue onto Ligonier Street in Lawrenceville.
Yablonsky, who was wearing a helmet, suffered a fractured leg, pelvis and arm and a torn aorta. He was unconscious for three weeks and didn't start walking for another five months. He got back on a bicycle in February or March, he said.
Fishinger turned himself in to police the next day and told authorities he had been drinking in the South Side the night of the accident, but thought he hit a dog or a deer. He said he sped off because he knew he would be in trouble for driving with a suspended license. Court records show Fishinger has been convicted of three DUIs since 2003.
Fishinger pleaded guilty on Thursday to aggravated assault by vehicle; accidents involving death or personal injury while not properly licensed; and five summary counts. The District Attorney's Office dropped one felony count of accidents involving death or personal injury in exchange for his plea.
“I hope it sends a message to everyone that people's actions while on the road carry serious consequences,” said Yablonsky, who went back to work in October at Bike Pittsburgh, a Lawrenceville-based bicycle advocacy group. “If Pittsburgh's going to have safer streets, we need people to recognize their responsibility, whether they're walking, bicycling, driving or taking public transportation.”
The incident involving Yablonsky was among several vehicle-bicycle crashes in late 2011 and 2012.
In January, Mark McCloskey, 27, of Valencia was sentenced to six months of house arrest for striking retired University of Pittsburgh professor David Wood as he rode his bicycle in Highland Park on Sept. 4, 2012. The following month, Jeffrey McClure, 29, of Pitcairn was sentenced to 2½ to 5 years in prison for the July 25, 2011, death of James Price, 46, as he rode his bicycle on Penn Avenue in Point Breeze.
Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike Pittsburgh, said it's going to take a lot for authorities to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
“What strikes me most is that someone with three or four DUIs was still able to get behind the wheel,” he said.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL parity makes playoff chase a multi-team muddle
- Finding balance between toughness, excessiveness key for Penguins’ Downie
- Iraqi family, torn apart for opposing Saddam, reunites in Pittsburgh
- Clues to Chief Justice John Roberts’ thinking on new ObamaCare case
- Inching closer to return, Pitt’s Wright could boost defense
- LaBar: Timing perfect for Sting’s debut at WWE’s Survivor Series
- Arziona’s Miller gets boost from Char Valley grad’s play
- Pirates trade Davis to A’s for international signing bonus money
- CT scans can find smokers’ lung cancer early
- East Allegheny girls basketball team embraces new outlook
- Ford City boys basketball coach brings winning personality for final season