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

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.

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 -- 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.

"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.

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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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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