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Bicyclist death: Woman surrenders

By From page A1 | January 29, 2014

A woman turned herself in and was charged with vehicular manslaughter and her second DUI for the death of a bicyclist.

Crystal Wood was riding her bicycle westbound on Pony Express Trail in Pollock Pines the evening of April 26, 2013, when she was struck from behind by a car, a press release from the District Attorney’s Office stated. The driver was identified by the CHP as Michelle Erickson, 31, a bartender from the area. Wood was taken by helicopter to Sutter Roseville Hospital, where she died the next day.

CHP arrested Erickson on the scene, charging her with DUI and causing great bodily injury. The next day, Erickson made bail on $25,000.

“Sometimes after a critical incident such as this one occurs, it can take weeks and months to complete the necessary investigation to successfully prosecute the case,” DA Investigator Dave Stevenson said. He later told the Mountain Democrat that the statute of limitations for vehicular manslaughter was three years, meaning they would have three years after the incident to file a complaint.

Stevenson provided a timeline of events in the press release: In April and May, the initial arrest reports were received by the DA’s Office. The forensic autopsy, with the cause of death, were submitted in September. Last month, the finalized collision reports were completed and the DA’s investigator’s follow-ups were completed. This month, the DA’s Vertical Prosecution Team filed three charges against Erickson: Manslaughter while driving under the influence with a prior, DUI causing great bodily injury and driving with a blood alcohol level over .08.

On Jan. 25, Erickson was arrested. “Our office has committed to protect the public by aggressively investigating and prosecuting impaired drivers in the community,” DA Vern Pierson said in the press release. “Realizing a need for a proactive approach in these types of cases, our office has applied for and has received a grant to fund a Vertical Prosecution Team for these types of cases. Those arrested for DUI in El Dorado County, especially repeat offenders and those causing injuries or fatalities, can expect to face a highly trained and specialized prosecution team.”

He also told the Mountain Democrat that Erickson had turned herself in; a wanted poster was circulated on Jan. 24 for her arrest.

Funding for the team comes from the state Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Erickson is currently being held in the county jail on $1 million bail.

Cole Mayer

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