An Arroyo Grande woman who has pleaded not guilty to striking and killing a bicyclist last week while driving and then fleeing the scene has three past convictions for driving under the influence, according to court records.
Michelle Yvonne Hart, 45, who has remained in custody since the Oct. 1 incident, pleaded not guilty during her arraignment in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Monday to all charges stemming from the incident that killed 48-year-old Arroyo Grande resident Glen Harley Fulton.
Hart is facing felony charges of gross vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence resulting in great bodily injury and leaving the scene of an accident, as well as a misdemeanor charge of driving on a suspended license.
Prosecutors are also seeking a number of enhancements for fleeing the scene of an accident and having prior convictions.
If convicted on all counts, Hart faces a maximum of 17 years in state prison, according to a sentencing schedule attached to the criminal complaint from the county District Attorney’s Office.
Hart’s public defender, Grover Beach-based attorney Ron Crawford, said Monday it was too early in the case to provide a comment.
About 11:15 a.m. Oct. 1, Hart was driving a Honda Accord south on Los Berros Road, south of Pomeroy Road, in Arroyo Grande when she allegedly hit the rear of Fulton’s bicycle, causing him to be ejected onto the west shoulder of the road.
Fulton, who was wearing a helmet, suffered fatal head injuries, the CHP said.
Hart allegedly fled the scene but was soon apprehended with the help of witnesses.
On Monday, a driver who said he witnessed the incident and followed Hart while calling 911 operators said he was one car ahead of her on Los Berros Road when he caught a glimpse of the incident in his rear view mirror.
“In my rear view, I just captured this dust cloud maybe 10 feet high,” said the witness, who identified himself only as Glennn. “At first I thought it was a popped tire, and then I remembered I had just passed a bicyclist right there.”
According to Glennn, Hart then allegedly emerged from behind his vehicle with a partly shattered windshield.
“I didn’t know what to do, but something just told me to take off after her,” Glennn said. “She was driving away with a shattered windshield, and it didn’t look like she could see where she was going.”
He said he followed Hart through nearby neighborhoods as she allegedly ran stoplights and almost struck other vehicles before becoming stuck on a dirt side street and CHP officers arrived.
“The dispatcher told me, ‘Sir, let her go,’ but I didn’t want her to hide the car in a garage somewhere,” Glennn said.
He added that he gave the CHP a statement but has not heard from law enforcement since.
Local officials confirmed Monday that Glennn was one reporting party in the incident.
Records from San Luis Obispo Superior Court indicate that Hart has a history of felony and misdemeanor drug- and alcohol-related convictions, including drunken-driving convictions in 1989, 2007 and 2010, and convictions for possession of a controlled substance in 2007 and 2011.
According to court records, Hart was scheduled to begin a 90-day sentence in County Jail on Monday for a February commercial burglary conviction.
Hart remains in County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail. She is scheduled back in court Oct. 27.