Theresa O'Connor, guilty in hit-and-run that killed cyclist, may not get jail time

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Theresa O'Connor. More photos below.
Back in January, we told you about the tragic death of Ernesto Wiedenburg, a scientist who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while cycling near Windsor.

Theresa O'Connor was eventually arrested and charged with causing Wiedenburg's death. However, she reached a plea agreement that may not require her to serve any time in jail.

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A photo from Wiedenbrug's Facebook page.
As we've reported, Wiedenburg was a Fort Collins resident originally from Argentina. His LinkedIn profile identified him as the technology manager for eta Scientific Inc., whose website describes the firm as "a Colorado, USA start-up company founded to provide products and services to the industrial electric motor industry that assist manufacturers, service providers and end users in achieving higher levels of efficiency, reliability and quality. The company is currently engaged in the development of proprietary technologies that will enable breakthrough capabilities for industrial motor efficiency testing and management. Our target customers are motor repair facilities, motor manufacturers and large end-users."

Wiedenbrug, whose LinkedIn credits also lists him as a past visiting professor at Korea University and industry advisory board member at Colorado State University, earned a number of patents according to FreshPatents.com -- among them one entitled "Portable system for immotive multiphasic motive force electrical machine testing."

His loss shattered his family, friends and loved ones. His sister-in-law in Argentina noted in a Facebook post that that "we are destroyed," adding, "We need your prayers." She asks those who knew him to celebrate his life.

As for the manner in which that life ended, Sergeant Mike Baker, public information officer for the Colorado State Patrol, told us in an interview for our original post that troopers responded at 5:44 p.m. Saturday, January 25, "on the western frontage road of I-25 just south of Kechter Street.

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A photo of Ernesto Weidenburg visiting Grand Teton National Park, also from his Facebook page.
"The cyclist was traveling northbound on the frontage road when another vehicle also traveling northbound struck Ernesto," Baker continued. Although Wiedenbrug was wearing a helmet, the injuries he suffered proved fatal. He was pronounced dead at an area hospital.

In the aftermath of the accident, the CSP put out an alert for what Baker described as "a silver passenger vehicle with possible damage on the front right and maybe the right side of the windshield."

That car turned out to be a 2003 Toyota Camry belonging to O'Connor, who'd headed home after the crash and left it parked in the garage until police impounded it, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports.

As for what happened on the night of the crash, O'Connor's attorney says the woman has a medical condition that causes her to become dizzy -- and on the night in question, she continued driving when she was stricken rather than pulling over.

Of course, that doesn't explain why O'Connor kept going instead of stopping at the scene and rendering aid to Wiedenburg. She turned herself over to authorities on February 6.

Now, O'Connor has pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crash and careless driving. But the Coloradoan notes that the judge in the case has discretion based on the plea agreement to give her a probationary sentence in lieu of jail time that could otherwise fall within a range of four-to-twelve years.

The sentence is expected to be announced on July 2. Here's a larger look at O'Connor's mug shot.

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Theresa O'Connor.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa January 27: "Photos: Ernesto Wiedenbrug, cyclist, killed in hit and run, no suspects yet."

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45 comments
leahpdexter
leahpdexter

She should have stayed with him. Leaving the scene after you've hit someone should be a felony. Never mind that he died. Even if he'd lived she should get some jail time.

Gabe Romero
Gabe Romero

Kinda like murder is not murder. I get that she left, but there is a better way to rehabilitate someone for panicking than to put them into prison. Justice shouldn't be about revenge, she made a mistake but she's probably not a terrible person, just a scared one. She shouldn't rot in prison for being scared. Think about intention not just outcome.

Amelia Ebert
Amelia Ebert

Well he died, maybe if she stayed and helped him he could of lived. That is kinda like murder. It was not an accident when she left, she choose to do that. Maybe he was dead right away, but I could not find any info on his injuries. I once found an injured unconscious cyclist on a bike path, and I called 911. I was not the reason he was down, but I think any decent person would of choose to help him. Leaving a person to die is fucked up.

Stan Salazar
Stan Salazar

Of course it is. You're soft on crime like most everyone here in Colorado.

Pete Copeland
Pete Copeland

Accidents are accidents, but they call them hit and runs because you knowingly left someone to die because you were afraid of the repercussions of your actions.

John Wayne Claybaugh
John Wayne Claybaugh

People with certain medical and mental conditions shouldn't be driving at all. People with seizures aren't supposed to drive.

Gabe Romero
Gabe Romero

Not the same. I would highly doubt she hit him on purpose with her car. If she shot him on accident I'd feel the same way. Accidental killers are not murderers and have no place in prison. Unless you like to see the privatized prison system do it's magic on "rehabing" its people.

Louis Lieb
Louis Lieb

What you're advocating for is a get of jail free card--I'm guessing if she shot the victim instead of killing him with her car, you'd feel differently. Those of us who advocate jail time are doing it out of a sense that she be held accountable and treated no differently than if she killed the victim by other means.

Gabe Romero
Gabe Romero

Texas is the last place I'd ever send anyone for "justice"

Gabe Romero
Gabe Romero

Why are you all trying so hard to take someone's life away? So two people's lives need to end? what about how prisons should be about rehabilitation and not finishing school for criminals? Do you really think it is going to serve anyone to put her in prison? Do you think she is going to be a better person? or do you people just get off on knowing someone is suffering?

Wilco
Wilco

Wow - if this was in Australia everyone would be congratulating her for killing a cyclist.  I am impressed by how most of those commenting here understand that a human has died.  The NSW police and the Aussie press and radio actually encourage drivers to kill and injured cyclists. Good on you USA!

Tai Kahn
Tai Kahn

I got 5 days for 1 speeding ticket (because I "could" have hurt someone). FUCK THIS BITCH. seriously. Denvers hypocritical piece of shit justice system.

Brian Banks
Brian Banks

Ok, you have a point. At least the ones who don't ride single file. I ride the same route you are describing all the time and I can't tell you how many times I have seen motorists take huge risks just to get around me, and I ride on the painted line. People just need to chill the fuck out and slow down! Sorry about the idiot comment, this issue strikes a chord with me though, I've had ass holes throw shit at me, honk and swerve aggressively when I am riding responsibly and abiding all traffic laws. Drives me crazy, then again so does driving behind 3 wide bicycles with no regard for anyone else.

Anthony Aberle
Anthony Aberle

Not really. Drive up to Evergreen through Morrison and see how dangerous it is. They have no business being on that road and lots of times don't ride single file. They are d-bags to the max.

Stan Salazar
Stan Salazar

That's Colorado for you. Ship her to Texas where we know how to deal with murderers, sex offenders & DWI offenses.

Jeff Lignon
Jeff Lignon

It's Colorado.. what the hell were you expecting??

Anthony Aberle
Anthony Aberle

Cyclist get in the way. Should not be allowed on roads.

Jayson Degroot
Jayson Degroot

If there is a medical condition it does have room for tolerance. Having a "medical condition" is hard for someone to understand that does not have one. I sometimes don't recollect a lot of things for hours, days, years or ever again. Of course we aren't the judge.

Joey Mendiola
Joey Mendiola

No its not!!! So tired of people getting away with reckless driving.

Dave Blackwood
Dave Blackwood

Not knowing anything about this case, I would say seems okay. She probably panicked. Have some sympathy for her children. Just kidding; fry the bitch!

Mike Pieruccini
Mike Pieruccini

Why have laws when you don't enforce them. PFD to promise justice only to piss it away

Rocs Anne
Rocs Anne

These hit and run drivers need to serve time! LOTS OF TIME! Leaving the scene after hitting a human being is evil. These are sick people and they should be off the streets! It's ridiculous how much this happens.

John Mccall
John Mccall

If there's no jail time for this heartless woman, then she loses her driving privileges for life, AND, half of her life time net income goes to the victims family.

John Wayne Claybaugh
John Wayne Claybaugh

Among other issues, it doesn't sound as though this woman should have ever been given a license.

Jillian Bridges
Jillian Bridges

Absolutely terrible!!! Jail for A LONG ASS TIME!!! My husband is a cyclist and this just puts my stomach in knots :(

dave_in_baker
dave_in_baker

Will she at least lose her license? This woman obviously should not be driving.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Medical condition my dying dog's ass.  She was more likely D & D.  Put her in stir.  

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Gabe the bleeding heart.


So you're a runner too eh gabe?  

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Well Jay, here is a simple remedy,  DON"T DRIVE a 3000 pound machine.

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