Driver who killed cyclist sentenced to probation, community service

Posted at 10:51 AM, Aug 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-30 13:51:33-04

The woman convicted of hitting and killing a cyclist on Highway 227 in Edna Valley in 2016 will not spend any time in jail. 

Lisa Smith pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence in June. 

Smith struck Bridget Dawson, 58, of San Luis Obispo, when she allowed her car to drift off the highway south of Biddle Ranch Road.

Dawson, a world-champion triathlete, died that night from injuries she sustained in the collision. 

Thursday, Smith was sentenced to three years probation and 200 hours of community service. 

Smith was an Oceano resident at the time of the deadly crash but has since relocated to Ohio. 

The judge told Smith and her attorney it will be up to the probation department to decide whether she can complete her probation and community service in Ohio. 

Deputy district attorney Stephen Wagner read a letter to the courtroom by the victim’s husband, Cal Poly business college dean Scott Dawson. 

"Bridget was thriving on the Central Coast," Dawson wrote. "She was obsessively cautious on her bike and never had a wreck." 

Scott Dawson wrote in the letter that Smith originally told investigators she was praying when she hit Bridget but later changed her story to say she was on her cell phone. 

"I have never felt anger toward Ms. Smith about killing Bridget but I am deeply disappointed that she has never owned up to the fact that she made a terrible mistake that cost Bridget her life," Scott Dawson wrote in the letter. 

After Wagner finished reading the letter, Smith told the judge she had talked to Mr. Dawson and formally pleaded that she takes full responsibilities for her actions. 

Judge Dodie Harman called the deadly crash "an absolute tragedy and a tragedy that could have been avoided by not using a cell phone." 

Smith’s community service is to be completed in the form of education. The judge ordered her to give presentations to the community about the dangers of distracted driving.