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Virginia man sentenced for crash cover-up in cyclist’s death

July 9, 2021 GMT

YORKTOWN, Va. (AP) — The owner of a Virginia landscaping company has been sentenced to a year in jail for covering up an accident in which one of his workers struck and killed a bicyclist.

A judge sentenced Robert Lee Strickland Jr., 64, of Poquoson on Wednesday for concealing a 2018 hit-and-run crash that killed 50-year-old cyclist Brian Leonard Utne, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

Authorities say Utne, a Newport News Shipbuilding engineer, had just finished a group ride after work. On his way home, he was struck by a Ford F-350 pickup, splitting the bike in two.

The pickup’s driver, Alexander Crosby, 28, of New Kent County, was sentenced to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and failing to stop. Prosecutors said Crosby was towing a trailer in a work convoy when he struck Utne and kept driving.

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York-Poquoson Commonwealth’s Attorney Ben Hahn said that instead of calling 911, Strickland told Crosby to get out of the area and fired him. Strickland had the pickup towed to an auto body shop to fix the damage, Hahn said.

The next day, Hahn said, Strickland told workers that “as far as you know, Alex hit a deer.” Several witnesses came forward and Crosby and Strickland were later arrested.