A 23-year-old woman has been arrested on charges of vehicular homicide months after the death of 17-year-old cycling star Magnus White.
White died in July after being struck by a car while biking on the side of Highway 119 near Gunbarrel. Officials said the driver, Yeva Smilianska, drifted from her lane into the right shoulder and collided with White, who was launched from his bike. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
A member of the United States Junior Men's National Team, White had been training for the Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Championships in Glasgow. Nearly five months after his death, law enforcement officials concluded their investigations and took Smilianska into custody Tuesday on a vehicular homicide charge.
Smilianska made her first court appearance Wednesday. Her lawyers told the court she is a refugee who fled the war in Ukraine, and that she has no criminal history in the United States or in her native country.
Investigators allege in the arrest affidavit that Smilianska was operating a vehicle while sleep deprived, and fell asleep at the wheel shortly before hitting White. In court, Smilianska denied the claim and said the crash was caused by a steering malfunction.
In Colorado, vehicular homicide is a class 4 felony, which could carry 2 to 6 years in prison, and potential fines from $2,000 to $500,000.
Shortly after Boulder County officials announced the arrest, White’s family released a statement through The White Line, a nonprofit they started in the aftermath of his death.
“Magnus’s death could have been prevented. It underscores the responsibility of every driver to safely operate their vehicle. Everytime each of us gets into our car, everytime we get on our bikes, everytime we walk on a sidewalk, everytime we walk in a parking lot, we all have an inherent trust that another driver will not strike and kill us. Yeva Smilianska shattered this trust,” the statement said.
Data from the Colorado Department of Transportation show 754 people died on Colorado roads in 2022, the highest number in four decades. Of those deaths, 36 percent were pedestrians, motorcyclists or bicyclists.
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