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Utah woman gets jail time for causing commuter train fatality

Published April 12, 2013 6:53 am

Maria Fregoso-Avina didn't clear windshield before she hit, knocked cyclist into train's path.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • A 49-year-old Provo woman who caused the death of a bicyclist by knocking him into the path of a FrontRunner commuter train was sentenced Thursday to 210 days in jail.

After serving the jail time, Maria Fregoso-Avina will be deported to Mexico. Fregoso-Avina is in the country illegally, and did not have a valid driver's license at the time of the accident, according to her attorney, Lance Starr.

Prosecutors say Fregoso-Avina had not properly cleared ice from her SUV's windshield when she struck 69-year-old Douglas Crow on Feb. 15.

The collision knocked Crow, who worked in the Physical Facilities custodial shop at Brigham Young University, off his bicycle and onto the tracks, where an approaching FrontRunner train ran over him.

Crow's son, Steven Crow, said during Thursday's sentencing that his father "had no time to react as she barrelled towards him" on that day. He also said his father laid on the tracks for "some time" before the train hit him — time enough, he thought, that Fregoso-Avina may have been able to help the man.

Crow, the father of seven children, was pronounced dead shortly after being rushed to a hospital.

Alan Crow, another son, described his father as a man who loved spending time with his family, and was known for his signature mustache and unique gifts he would bring to his grandchildren's birthday parties.

"It is hard to think of the memories that we were robbed of because of this tragic accident," he said.

Both of Crow's sons, as well as prosecutors, asked 4th District Judge Derek Pullan for the maximum penalty: one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Fregoso-Avina was charged in 4th District Court with negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor, and class C misdemeanor counts of improper lookout and operating an unsafe or improper vehicle on a public highway.

In March, she pleaded guilty to the negligent homicide charge and the other counts were dismissed.

"I apologize," Fregoso-Avina said through a Spanish interpreter during the hearing. "A thousand times apology. I am so sorry for what happened. It was not my intention. I did not provoke it. I'm so sorry."

Starr said his client pleaded guilty to resolve the case and to give closure to the victim's family.

"Cases like this are hard," he told Pullan. "Somebody died. But by the nature of this case, it was an accident."

Fregoso-Avina will be given credit for the 56 days she has already served in jail. Pullan said he opted not to give her the maximum sentence after weighing the aggravating and mitigating factors of the case, and because after reading nearly a dozen letters from Crow's family, he didn't feel Crow would want the entire sentence imposed.

Though Pullan said he thought reports that Fregoso-Avina may have been able to render aid before Crow was hit by the train were "concerning," he said it was not clear whether the woman understood the situation at that time.

Pullan did not order Fregoso-Avina to pay any fines but did order her to read the letters from Crow's family while she is in the jail.

jmiller@sltrib.com