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Carlsbad Man Arrested in Leucadia Hit-and-Run Death

The 46-year-old man turned himself in to authorities and was booked into the Vista jail.

A Carlsbad man was behind bars Tuesday in connection with a hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist on an early morning training ride with several friends near Leucadia State Beach on April 10.

Sheriff's Sgt. Mark O'Connor said Joseph Ricardo Fernandez, 46, came forward Monday to report that he believed he might have been involved in the recent traffic accident on Highway 101.

Detectives interviewed the man and inspected his Dodge Ram 1500, which matched suspect vehicle descriptions—including front-end damage.

Fernandez was later booked into the Vista Jail on suspicion of felony hit-and-run. He remains in custody on $50,000 bail, with arraignment scheduled for Thursday.

Police are still looking into whether alcohol was a factor in the collision. According to O'Connor, some statements have been made regarding alcohol and investigations are under way at area bars.

O'Connor said Fernandez did not give an explanation for his actions.

The accident occurred about 1 a.m. Sunday when James Steven Swarzman, 47, of Encino was struck from behind by a northbound vehicle in the 1200 block of North Coast Highway.

The driver did not stop at the scene to offer assistance or speak to authorities.

Swarzman died at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla several hours later.

According to authorities, Swarzman was a competitive bicyclist and all three riders were wearing reflective gear.

Investigations into the fatal crash are ongoing, and additional charges—such as manslaughter and negligence—may be filed, O'Connor said.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Linda Swarzman April 13, 2011 at 07:50 AM
It is important to note the the three cyclists were not simply "taking a late night ride". The three were, among others, participants in a San Diego Randonneurs brevet, a qualifying event for Paris-Brest-Paris a famous 1200 Kilometer cycling event in Paris once every four years. The three were experienced riders, well outfitted with reflective equipment and had been cycling for over 20 hours when my son, Jim was brutally hit and killed by a totally irresponsible driver. One of the cyclists was his fiance whom he planned to marry in August. Two beautiful lives shattered in an instant by a monster behind the wheel!
Deanne Goodman (Editor) April 13, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Linda- I am so sorry for your loss. Thanks for adding the info about your son Jim and his fiance. Let us know if there is anything Patch can do to help as the media during this tragic time.
Encinitas resident April 13, 2011 at 03:26 PM
This biking accident is horrible. My deepest sympathy goes out to the family. I do hope Encinitas takes a good look at this. I have felt for years this stretch of Encinitas needs a bike path, and there is plenty of room between the highway, and the railroad track to put one. A bike path would have saved this young mans life
Steve Shackelton April 13, 2011 at 04:38 PM
Dear Linda- I am the Vice president of the Leucadia Mainstreet Association. Myself and our organization sends our most sincere, deepest sympathies and compassion to you and your loved ones. If we can offer you anything please call us. 760-436-3627. We will continue to push for the implementation of the streetscape which provides bikelanes and traffic calming.
Danielle Stewart April 13, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Our thoughts are with you Linda and your family for your terrible loss.
SULEEN April 14, 2011 at 12:48 PM
HORRIBLE MY HEART GOES OUT TOO YOUR FAMILY I WITNESSED A HIT AND RUN THAT KILLED 2 ELDERLY CHINESE PEOPLE SEVERAL YEARS AGO I CAUGHT THE GUY I STILL HAVE SUVIVORS GUILT TILL THIS DAY MY LIFE HAS NEVER BEEN THE SAME

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