No charges filed yet in fatal bicyclist hit and run

ENCINITAS — The man who came forward in connection with the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist on April 10 in Encinitas has been released from jail, after no charges were filed.
Joseph Ricardo Fernandez, 46, contacted Carlsbad police April 11 and mentioned that he was possibly involved in a collision.
Police determined that his vehicle, a Dodge Ram 1500, was similar to the truck that was involved in the fatal bicycle collision on North Coast Highway 101.
Fernandez was arrested for a felony hit and run and held in the Vista jail on $50,000 bail, but instead of being arraigned in Vista Superior Court, he was released on April 14.
“When you arrest someone, you have 72 hours to arraign them,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Mark O’Connor.
The sheriff’s department said it’s a complicated case because they must prove that the vehicle at the crime lab is the one involved.
Both the bicycle and the vehicle are at the lab.
O’Connor said the district attorney wants the department to finish a thorough investigation.
“We can only file charges once we can prove something beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Steve Walker, spokesman for the San Diego County District Attorney’s office.
He said they are continuing to review the investigation.
“It doesn’t mean we’re not going to file. Right now we’re not comfortable filing those charges,” he said.
James Steven Swarzman, 47, of Encino, was taking a late-night ride with several friends when he was struck from behind about 1 a.m., in the 1200 block of North Coast Highway 101, according to authorities.
He and a group of cyclists had been riding near the beach in the Encinitas area when the fatal accident occurred.
According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, Swarzman died at a hospital at 4 a.m.
A sheriff’s detective and a deputy from the Encinitas station arrived at the residence where Fernandez was staying after he called authorities.
According to the sheriff’s department, Fernandez voluntarily returned with the detective and deputy to the station to be interviewed; his truck was also impounded.
In previous reports, O’Connor said that damage to the truck was consistent with evidence at the scene.
He said that a headlight assembly was found at the accident site.
He also said that drinking might have been a factor.

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