Victim, supporters lash out at driver in cycling incident

The 77-year-old drunken driver convicted of running over a competitive cyclist and dragging her beneath his pickup in Menlo Park was sentenced to eight months in county jail on Friday after the victim angrily confronted him in court.

Hillsborough contractor Walter Sorenson also faces five years’ probation and will pay $366,013 in restitution to Mary Ann Levenson, in the Dec. 23, 2006, incident. Sorenson’s license will also be revoked.

The day his trial was to begin in November, Sorenson pleaded no contest to felony driving under the influence causing great bodily injury.

Moments before Judge Clifford Cretan handed down the verdict, Levenson and a string of supporters confronted Sorenson, asking him why he had never apologized or shown remorse for his actions. Levenson, an aspiring Olympian with three young sons, told Sorenson he had made her children fearful, ruined her hopes of a cycling career and left her with lasting physical scars.

“You have taken my voice. You have taken my strength. But you will not take my spirit,” said Levenson, who has become a bicycle safety advocate. Sorenson showed no emotion as Levenson blasted him for failing to acknowledge her in numerous court hearings.

“You truly are pathetic. You should be thanking me for being a fighter, or you would be facing manslaughter charges,” she said.

Scott Levenson showed Sorenson pictures of his wife’s bloodied face and battered body in the intensive care unit. Prosecutors said after Sorenson swerved into a group of cyclists on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, hitting Levenson, he failed to stop until his truck hit a curb. Levenson suffered a shattered jaw, crushed larynx, broken ribs and a fractured spine and pelvis in the crash. She has since recovered to the point where she can walk and ride her bike again.

Sorenson’s attorney, James Blackman, said his client is extremely remorseful, even if he hasn’t expressed it to Levenson. Sorenson said the incident has been a devastating experience, second only to when his son was gunned down in East Palo Alto, Blackman said.

After the verdict, Levenson said she was ecstatic that Sorenson had been held accountable and will now work on forgiving him.

“If I stay angry, then he wins,” she said.

tbarak@examiner.com

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