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E. High St. bike hit-and-run hearing set

One month after a caught-on-camera incident appearing to show the driver of a motor vehicle swerving into the path of a bicyclist, the suspect revealed his attorney and was notified of his preliminary hearing during a brief status hearing Monday in Charlottesville General District Court.

John Dean Sherwin of Orange County, a 31-year-old Downtown Mall restaurant worker, confirmed for the prosecutor that he will be represented by Charlottesville-based attorney Michael J. Hallahan II. Sherwin faces a felony hit-and-run charge for his motor vehicle’s interaction with a bicyclist last month on East High Street. The preliminary hearing will be held on Feb. 9 at 1 p.m.

Asked outside of court if he had any comment, Sherwin replied, “Absolutely none.”

The incident took place on Oct. 18 in the westbound, uphill lane of High Street near Hazel Street and was captured by two security cameras at nearby Charlottesville Glass & Mirror. The video provoked widespread outrage online, as it showed Sherwin’s vehicle suddenly swerve out of its lane, up onto a sidewalk and into the path of the cyclist. The video also showed the cyclist getting catapulted into a bush.

That cyclist, 37-year-old Kenyon Barnes, came to court Monday to observe the proceedings. He arrived on a newer bike just like his old bike: a 36-volt, battery-assisted Hyper e-Ride.

“I needed a new one,” said Barnes, explaining that he had to retire the prior vehicle due to losing the integrity of its sensor, hub and several spokes in the impact with the Toyota sedan allegedly driven by Sherwin.

Barnes said that the crash cost him time off work and time spent shopping for an identical model of the old bike. He also suffered a now-healed finger injury: A deep cut, he said.

While the initial Daily Progress story on this incident incorrectly described the turquoise bicycle as a Veo rental, Barnes said however that the bike belonged to him. He also notes that, after wrecking his own car in April, the bike was his only form of wheeled transportation.

“That’s my vehicle,” Barnes said Monday outside the courthouse on Market Street, as he described making a 20-mile commute into Charlottesville from his home in the Afton/Batesville area, a ride that can consume the energy from two batteries.

“It was cold this morning,” Barnes said in foggy breaths in Monday’s 40-degree air. “I had icicles all over my beard.”

Barnes has alleged that the automobile driver was angrily revving his engine and driving “erratically” prior to the collision. The owner of the surveillance video—Dwight Corle, owner of Charlottesville Glass & Mirror—has alleged that he could see the driver glance in a mirror and then “intentionally” swerve.

Charged with the Class 5 felony of leaving the scene of an injurious accident, Sherwin, free on a personal recognizance bond, could spend a minimum year in jail and up to ten years if convicted. However, witness Kevin Cox, a crossing guard, contends that incarceration may not be the proper penalty for this suspect.

“What I believe should happen,” Cox continued, “is that he should be required to take anger management classes or be counseled on controlling his anger issues.”

Cox also suggests a bit of restorative justice.

“He should be required to buy a new bike for Kenyon Barnes,” said Cox. “The financial penalty might help him.”

Cox was instrumental in tracking down Barnes, who initially pedaled off, in order to file a report to launch this prosecution. Most weekday mornings and afternoons Cox remains a familiar sight on East High as he directs school children and other pedestrians across the busy thoroughfare. He contends that the video may be creating caution among some drivers—another reason he cites to avoid jailing Sherwin.

“There’s already a certain amount of deterrence effect from all the publicity he’s received,” Cox said.


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