A Wisconsin man is charged with the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist after telling his wife he hit a deer with the family’s Volvo on Sunday night.
Ryan S. Peterson’s wife called police the next day after she learned someone had died on the dark road where her husband said he hit a deer.
Peterson told sheriff’s deputies he was drinking before the crash while watching the Green Bay Packers game but did not believe he was drunk at the time.
He couldn’t be tested for drunk driving because too much time — at least 16 hours — passed between the time of the accident to the time of his arrest, according to Fox 6 News in Milwaukee.
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The victim’s family is furious.
Peterson, 39, of Salem Lakes, Wis., made his first appearance in court Tuesday, according to the Kenosha News.
Authorities say Jackie Hutcheson Jr., 29, was riding a bicycle north on the gravel shoulder of a road sometime between 9:10 and 9:30 p.m. Sunday. They claim Peterson came up from behind and hit him.
No skid marks were found. There was a reflector on the back of the bike, authorities said.
Hutcheson was riding home from a family gathering at his sister’s home, the newspaper reported. His mom went looking for him when he didn’t get home and came upon the crash scene while deputies were still there.
Bits of car parts, some with the Volvo logo, littered the scene, TV reported.
“One day we’re going to have to forgive this man for taking our son away, because that’s the Christian thing to do,” Hutcheson’s father, Jackie Hutcheson Sr., told the newspaper after Peterson’s court hearing. “But today we have hate in our hearts.”
Another motorist saw Hutcheson, unconscious and not breathing, on the side of the road after he was struck. Hutcheson was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy revealed he suffered a fatal head injury.
Though state law requires motorists to check what they hit in a crash, Peterson did not stop after he hit Hutcheson, authorities say.
When Peterson got home he told his wife, Trisha, he thought he hit a deer, damaging the car and shattering the windshield on the passenger’s side.
Peterson “pulled an Acura out of their garage and put the Volvo in the garage so that anyone investigating would not be able to see the damage,” Assistant District Attorney Andrew Burgoyne said in court.
On Monday afternoon Peterson’s wife, a teacher’s aide at Central High School, told the sheriff’s deputy stationed at the school that her husband thought he hit a deer at about the same time and on the same road where Hutcheson died, the News reported.
She reportedly read a sheriff’s department press release that identified the location of the fatality accident, according to the Journal Times in Racine.
Authorities arranged for her husband to come to the school.
Peterson told a deputy he looked in his rear-view mirror after the crash, didn’t see anything and kept going.
“The defendant said he was distracted because he was attempting to plug in his cellphone,” Burgoyne said in court. “He admitted that he never stopped to check what he had hit.”
Peterson said he was driving home from a relative’s house after watching the Packers game and had been drinking during the day, but insisted he was sober at the time of the crash.
Court Commissioner David Berman said Tuesday that a blood test would not have been useful 16 to 17 hours after the crash.
“We’ll never know (if Peterson was above the legal alcohol limit) because Mr. Peterson did not stop,” Berman said.
Peterson is charged with hit-and-run resulting in death, and homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.
“He was drunk and he waited 16 hours,” Delise Hutcheson, the victim’s mother, told Fox 6. “He took a life — a young man’s life who had everything going for him.”
If Peterson is convicted, Berman said, “there is a great likelihood that he is going to spend a significant time in prison.”
A preliminary hearing was set for Sept. 28.