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Charge filed in cyclist's death

The Union: Charge filed in cyclist's death

By Liz Kellar
Staff Writer

The Placer County District Attorney's Office has filed a charge of vehicular manslaughter against a 55-year-old driver who struck and killed well-known bicyclist Jim Rogers on Highway 174 near Colfax last month.

The misdemeanor charge against Patricia Louise Hernandez, of Chicago Park, carries a maximum penalty of one year in the Placer County jail.

Deputy District Attorney Clark Gehlbach, who filed the complaint in county Superior

Court, said Hernandez appeared to have been distracted just before Jim Rogers, 53, of Grass Valley was struck on the side of the road at about 12:15 p.m. Jan. 31. No gross negligence was found.

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

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

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.

An arraignment date for Hernandez has been scheduled for 8:30 a.m. March 23 in Department 31 of the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville.

Rogers, 53, 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.

He was flown by a CHP helicopter from the scene to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where he died. He had sustained major head trauma even though he was wearing a helmet.

Rogers 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.