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Judge Grants Family of Bicyclist Killed by Teen Driver Access to Accident Report

The family of a bicyclist killed east of Santa Maria when he was struck by a teenage pickup truck driver can receive a copy of the accident report, a Santa Barbara County Juvenile Court judge ruled Friday.

Judge Arthur Garcia said the family of Mathew O’Neill, 33, of Chula Vista, could have access to the reports for limited use — insurance and lawsuit purposes.

Marcus Maldonado, the son of former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, has been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter plus an infraction for driving a commercial vehicle without a license, and an infraction for noncompliance with driving terms and restrictions.

The Chevy 3500 pickup driven by Maldonado was pulling a horse trailer at the time of the collision. Maldonado’s 18-year-old brother was a passenger in the truck.

Because of the driver’s age — 16 at the time of the crash — the case is being heard in Juvenile Court.

Garcia denied defense attorney Catherine Swysen’s request to redact private information of the teen, his parents or witnesses. That private information included addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers.

But Garcia instructed that the private information shouldn’t be disclosed beyond use for a lawsuit or insurance matters.

In considering whether to withhold the reports, Garcia noted they would be available under the court’s discovery rules as part of any civil lawsuit stemming from the collision.

Other matters were postponed until Nov. 14 after Swysen said she needed more time to address the suitability report from the county Probation Department.

Formal probation reportedly has been recommended for the teen. 

O’Neill was struck and killed about 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9 while riding a recumbent bicycle on Foxen Canyon Road, east of Dominion Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Several of O’Neill’s family members — his parents, fiancée, grandmother, brothers, aunts and uncles — were in the courtroom Friday morning.

Friday afternoon, O’Neill’s family and friends gathered at the UC Santa Barbara Gevirtz Graduate School of Education for a service to remember him. 

Living in Carpinteria at the time of his death, O’Neill was working toward a graduate degree in special education research to add to the law degree he already held.

Gevirtz School officials said O’Neill was adding a Ph.D. to his legal training to help parents and teachers better meet the needs of their children and students. The expert in special education law previously had worked as a legal advocate in the Los Angeles area before entering the UCSB graduate program.

In the wake of his death, family and friends of O’Neill, an avid cyclist, have launched a campaign called “Change a Lane. Save a Life,” to urge motorists to move over when passing cyclists.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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