There has been an arrest in the caught-on-camera hit-and-run automobile incident that injured a bicyclist on East High Street.
Court records indicate that 31-year-old restaurant worker John Dean Sherwin of Orange County has been charged in Charlottesville General District Court with an injury-causing hit-and-run, a felony.
“I really appreciate the Charlottesville Police Department’s diligence in tracking this guy down,” said crossing guard Kevin Cox, who witnessed the October 18 incident, which occurred near Hazel Street. Initially, the victim rode away without seeking medical or police attention until Cox convinced him of the importance of pressing charges.
Widespread community outrage ensued due to the surveillance video supplied by the owner of a nearby store. The video showed the driver of a late-model Subaru sedan suddenly veer out of his lane in what looked, at minimum, like an effort to halt the advance of a passing bicyclist. The video also showed the bicyclist tumbling into a bush after his bicycle made contact with the swerving car.
A subsequent interview found that the victim, 37-year-old Kenyon Barnes, suffered a finger injury that he treated himself. Also, five spokes were broken on a wheel of his battery-assisted two-wheeler.
A message left with Barnes Monday afternoon seeking comment on the arrest was not immediately returned.
The issue of car-on-bicycle collisions has gained visibility in recent years, since deaths from such interactions have been rising. In 2020, the most recent year for which numbers are available, 932 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles, an 8.9% increase from 856 deaths in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The High Street case caused concern among mobility advocates that it would go uninvestigated, particularly since the victim did not initially file a police report. Crossing guard Cox was particularly adamant that he would help find the driver of the car. But after some encouragement from the crossing guard, Barnes filed his report a week later.
“I don’t want to persecute my brother when I’m supposed to love him,” Barnes said the day he filed. “But he done vile.”
Investigating officer Rudy Burchardt said that day that, despite concern that there was no active case, his investigation had already begun before Barnes’ report. Crossing guard Cox says he’s thankful for the police.
“They get a lot of grief from people, but they continue to do their job,” said Cox.
The arresting documents indicate that Sherwin was charged with Class 5 felony, which can bring a one-to-10-year sentence if he’s found guilty.
The documents show that Sherwin gave his workplace as a restaurant company that owns several venues on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall and his home address as a house belonging to his parents in north central Orange County. At the time of the arrest, the documents note that Sherwin had not yet obtained a lawyer. A reporter was unable to find him at the downtown restaurants Monday afternoon.
Magistrate Patricia Last released Sherwin on an unsecured $3,000 personal recognizance bail. That means that he was allowed his freedom without putting up any cash or collateral but that he will owe $3,000 if he fails to attend his next court appearance, which is a Nov. 21 status hearing.
The documents also show that Sherwin’s bail was modified by the magistrate to allow him to leave the Commonwealth of Virginia in early December to travel to his honeymoon.
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