A man who struck and seriously injured a bicyclist in Ramona last fall pleaded guilty Monday to felony charges of reckless driving resulting in serious injury and vandalism.
Chase Richard, now 35, was arrested in October 2019 in unincorporated Ramona, less than 10 miles away from where 54-year-old Michelle Scott was struck on Oct. 2.
On Monday, Richard admitted to hitting Scott from behind on state Route 67 near Dy Road with his Ford Edge as she biked to work at about at about 6:15 a.m.
She remained in the hospital for about two months before being transferred to a Poway nursing care facility, where she remains under full-time care, recovering from the brain injury she suffered in the crash, according to the Ramona Sentinel.
The California Highway Patrol said a tip from the public led investigators to Richard's damaged SUV in the garage of his Ramona residence.
A neighbor testified at Richard's preliminary hearing that she briefly spotted his 2013 Ford Edge inside his garage. She said the vehicle was covered in cardboard and painted a different color.
"It was missing a license plate, it was a different color, and it wasn't a shiny black. It was kind of like a matte gray color, so that was definitely a red flag for me," said the witness, who a judge told NBC 7 not to identify.
Richard agreed to a three-year, eight-month term that will include two years in local custody and 20 months of mandatory supervision.
Per the terms of his plea agreement, Richard will also perform 200 hours of community service, a component of his sentence that Deputy District Attorney Valerie Ryan said was important to Scott's family.
The victim volunteered with multiple local programs, including the local Community Emergency Response Team -- or CERT -- which trains and assists community members in response to emergency situations like natural disasters.
Ryan said Scott's husband, Don, hopes that Richard can "do what he can to give back to the community because Mrs. Scott can no longer do that."
The prosecutor said Don Scott is "hoping through this time on mandatory supervision that Mr. Richard can change and alter his behavior" and "contribute to the community" once he is released from custody.
"There's a lot of graciousness and generosity of heart in the Scott family, and they are hoping and looking for Mr. Richard to do better," Ryan said.
Sentencing is slated for July 28.