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Driver could face jail time for death of Center City cyclist

A white bike marks the corner at 11th and Spruce streets where cyclist Emily Fredricks was killed in 2017 (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A white bike marks the corner at 11th and Spruce streets where cyclist Emily Fredricks was killed in 2017 (Emma Lee/WHYY)

This article originally appeared on PlanPhilly.

The truck driver who hit and killed a Center City cyclist could face prison time for the 2017 collision.

Jorge Fretts, 28, hit Emily Fredricks, a 24-year-old pastry chef. She was riding to work on a Spruce Street bike lane when the privately owned garbage truck Fretts was driving collided with her. He faces charges of homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment of another person, said District Attorney Larry Krasner on Wednesday.

A conviction of homicide by vehicle could lead to a sentence of five years behind bars.

Fretts hit Fredricks while turning right from Spruce Street onto 11th Street. He surrendered to authorities Tuesday.

Krasner described the case as an extraordinary example of a driver whose behavior behind the wheel rose to the level of criminal intent. It is rare for drivers who are not intoxicated to face criminal charges for crashes.

“This case is a reminder that not only could there be civil consequences, not only could there be career consequences, but there can be criminal consequences when the conduct on a roadway is outrageous,” said Krasner.

Anthony Voci, chief of homicide in the DA’s office, said their investigation showed Fretts was wearing earbuds and looking at paperwork in the center console when he hit Fredricks.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (right) and Chief of Homicide Anthony Voci announce criminal against the driver in a case involving the death of Emily Fredricks, a cyclist who was killed in a Center City crash in 2017. (Emma Lee/ WHYY)

The charges come as an analysis by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia contends that only 16 percent of drivers who kill pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in crashes face charges.

The Philadelphia Police Department had no data for almost half of the cases the group included in its sample.

Randy LoBassso, policy manager at the Bicycle Coalition, said the group had been in contact with the DA’s office about Fredricks’ case and others. LoBasso said though there are no winners in this case, he found a lot of what Krasner said positive.

“Things about how cyclists have a legal right to the road, things that are true and that I know, but I’m not sure everybody always knows,” he said. “This was a good place to bring a lot of that information up.”

The Bicycle Coalition and other advocates plan to meet Thursday at the intersection where Fredricks was killed. They plan to discuss the recent Bicycle Coalition report and demand additional action from city leaders.

Fredricks’ family is expected to be there.

The young pastry chef’s death sparked demonstrations from cyclists demanding overdue bike lane improvements. The lane where Fredricks was killed still awaits promised safety improvements.

In 2018, Gold Medal Environmental, the company that owned the truck Fretts was driving, settled with family for $6 million and promised to donate $125,000 to organizations advocating for safer streets in the city.

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