An Oceano woman who struck and killed a champion triathlete while allegedly talking on the phone and driving has avoided jail time following a plea agreement with prosecutors.
On July 14, 2016, Lisa Smith’s car drifted onto the shoulder of Highway 227 and struck Bridget Dawson, 58, who was riding a bicycle. Dawson was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.
Initially, investigators said they did not believe Smith, 55, was texting or on the phone at the time of the accident. But, Smith was later charged with a single misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.
Smith was scheduled to stand trial this week. On Monday, however, she entered a plea of no contest to the lone charge in exchange for a sentence of five years of formal probation, community service and an undetermined amount of restitution.
Dawson was a champion triathlete who led her age group in the 2012 World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand. She also won at the U.S. Duathlon Championships from 2013 to 2016. Dawson had been a competitive rider and racer for 31 years, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by her family.
Relatives of Dawson sued Smith, as well as her employer, Dignity Health. Phone records allegedly showed Smith was speaking with Dignity Health at the approximate time the crash occurred.
The civil case is ongoing. Smith’s sentencing is scheduled for July 30.