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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 10:52 am | Fair 63º


84-Year-Old Driver Gets Probation in Death of Bicyclist

Benny Contreras also receives community service and is ordered to pay restitution to the victim's family

An 84-year-old Lompoc man was sentenced Tuesday to community service and three years of probation after being found guilty of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in an incident that left a cyclist dead earlier this year.

Driver Benny Contreras was convicted of hitting and killing cyclist James Hamlin, 58, of Santa Maria, on April 12 while Hamlin was riding his bicycle legally on the shoulder of Highway 1 between Santa Maria and Lompoc.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office and Hamlin’s family had originally asked for Contreras to undergo 120 days of house arrest, but Judge Edward Bullard stated that custody time was not appropriate because there were no aggravating factors in the incident, such as speeding or cell phone use.

Hamlin’s family spoke in court on Tuesday during the sentencing.

In addition to probation, Contreras must complete 100 hours of community service, pay restitution to the victim’s family, and his license will be suspended for three years.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley issued a statement Tuesday after the ruling, saying that “no one involved in this collision can escape a pervasive sense of loss and pain. This is a tragic reminder that automobiles remain deadly weapons and all drivers must be vigilant in their attentiveness.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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