A man who struck a bicyclist with his SUV in unincorporated Ramona and fled the scene, ultimately leaving the woman in a coma, will spend nearly half his prison sentence on mandatory supervised release thanks to the "generosity" of the victim's family, according to a prosecutor.
Chase Richard -- who struck 54-year-old Michelle Scott with his Ford Edge while she was cycling to work along State Route 67 just north of Dye Road in the early morning hours of Oct. 2, 2019 -- was sentenced to 3 years and 8 months in prison on Tuesday.
Only 2 years will be spent in prison, a San Diego Superior Court spokesperson said.
The sentence can, in part, be credited to the "graciousness and generosity of heart in the Scott family," who are "looking for Mr. Richard to do better" while on mandatory release, Deputy District Attorney Valerie Ryan said following the plea agreement.
Per the terms of his plea, Richard will also perform 200 hours of community service, a component of his sentence Ryan said was important to Scott's family.
Scott 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."
Investigators said on Oct. 2, 2019, Richard's SUV traveled onto the highway shoulder and directly into Scott's path, launching her from the bike and causing her to land in the roadway.
Richard took off with Scott's bicycle stuck to the SUV's grille for at least two miles, the California Highway Patrol said.
Scott was critically injured and was transported to Palomar Hospital via air ambulance where she placed on a ventilator and remained in a coma for several weeks.
Scott 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.
Richard was located a week after the crash -- less than 10 miles away from the scene -- and was arrested on felony charges of reckless driving resulting in serious injury and vandalism.
Prosecutors said when police found Richard, he was making moves to leave town.
“The car engine was running at the time, and there was a suitcase as well as a large backpack that was in the defendant’s possession, and he was placed under arrest at that time,” said Ryan.
Richard's neighbor testified that she briefly spotted his 2013 Ford Edge inside his garage. She said the vehicle was covered in cardboard and painted a different color.