Leonardo Degianni, the driver who fatally struck cyclist Mathieu Lefevre with his truck before fleeing the scene more than three years ago, has received his official punishment: The DMV has suspended his driver's license for six months.
In a hearing held earlier this month, Degianni acknowledged through his lawyer, Byron Divins, Jr., that he did in fact strike 30-year-old Lefevre as he turned right onto Meserole Street from Morgan Avenue in 2011, but referred to the incident only as a "horrific accident."
Degianni, who claimed he didn't notice he ran Lefevre over, initially received a summons from the NYPD for failing to signal, but the charges were eventually dismissed by the DMV. Former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes also declined to charge him.
In the eyes of the DMV, the only instances in which Degianni truly erred were in his failure to signal, as well as negligence in properly checking his mirrors.
“Had he signaled 100 feet prior to turning, as required under VTL section 1163(b), Mr. Lefevre would have been alerted, before he even reached the truck, and been able to protect himself by taking evasive action,” DMV administrative law judge Marc Berger wrote in a finding sheet. He also faulted Degianni for not taking "due care to avoid colliding with the bicycle."
"My client had no idea what happened," Divins told Berger during the hearing. "You could see by the video tape he didn't slow down, and when he was questioned the next day, he had no idea. And most importantly…he isn't convicted of anything. He sits in front of you convicted of nothing...As a result of an accident, he shouldn't lose his license."
The Lefevre's attorney, Steve Vaccaro, released the following statement after Berger's verdict:
On behalf of the families we represent who have lost loved ones in crashes, I welcome the DMV’s decision and process. Mr. Degianni’s 180-day suspension is one of the most serious sanctions to be applied to a sober, reckless driver in a fatal New York City crash in recent memory. The DMV’s new practice of announcing safety hearing results online is also a welcome step for the agency towards greater transparency and accountability.