A Melville man sentenced Friday to six months in jail in the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist in Dix Hills in 2013 tearfully apologized to the victim's family in court.
"I know that I can never make up for the loss that you've suffered," Albert DiBernardo, 29, said, addressing Ricardo Fernandez's father and brother sitting in a front row of a Suffolk County courtroom.
DiBernardo was charged with leaving the scene of an incident involving a fatality without reporting after the Sept. 2, 2013, collision around 10 a.m. that killed Fernandez, 44, of Amityville.
DiBernardo, who turned himself in to police about 7:15 the night of the collision on Express Drive North, pleaded guilty on July 29, according to his attorney, Eric Naiburg of Central Islip.
In court, DiBernardo said: "I certainly did not intend for this terrible thing to happen."
Reading from a piece of paper, he said he knows Fernandez's family "will live with this pain" for years. "And for that truly I am sorry." DiBernardo asked for forgiveness.
At the time of the collision, DiBernardo's attorney then said he was returning from a bagel shop and reached into the backseat of his 2010 Jeep Wrangler for a soft drink when he struck Fernandez -- and panicked and left the scene.
Judge Fernando Camacho, who also sentenced DiBernardo to 5 years' probation, said it was not the "typical" leaving-the-scene case. Camacho said DiBernardo, a fabricator of stone and marble, was not intoxicated at the time and the collision was an accident.
"Although he did not do what he should have done morally and legally, which is to stay at the scene and help a dying man if he could," DiBernardo contacted an attorney, within an hour in an attempt to turn himself in, Camacho said. But the attorney was not available until later that day, he said.
Fernandez was wearing a green, white and yellow cycling shirt and cycling shoes. He was riding a blue and orange LeMond racing bike.
In court, Camacho said Fernandez's family had shown "tremendous class and dignity" during the case. Fernandez "sounds like a terrific young man," the judge said.
Camacho said he had considered community service, but that "in the end, there has to be a price."