Driver who knocked Torckler off his bike sent to jail

TONY BIRD
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2012
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ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ
Taranaki rider Michael Torckler.

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A man who left professional New Plymouth cyclist Michael Torckler for dead on the side of a Californian road has been sent to prison for more than a decade.

Arthur Ben Yu, 37, did not contest charges made against him after Torckler was critically injured on a training ride on June 29 this year.

Yu was charged with stealing his father's car, hit-and-run and reckless driving while in a drug-fuelled state.

Because of his criminal history, which includes four felony convictions, Yu was sentenced to 10 years and four months imprisonment when he appeared in a Santa Rosa court last Saturday.

It is understood Yu will spend at least eight years in prison.

He was on parole when he hit Torckler, according to the Press Democrat newspaper in Santa Rosa.

The paper quoted case prosecutor Barbara Nanney saying "apparently Mr Yu does not get the message about his criminality".

On the the day of the crash, Yu stopped taking medications prescribed for a mental condition and instead loaded up on alcohol, marijuana and magic mushrooms, the prosecutor revealed.

She said Yu and a passenger drove to Alexander Valley where they hit Torckler descending the winding Pine Flat Rd.

Outside the court, two counsellors blamed Yu's mental condition for his actions and said he was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, depression and schizophrenia.

Yu's sentencing gives Torckler and his family some closure after the turmoil they were put through.

Torckler, who cannot remember any details of the accident, said he was surprised at some of the information about Yu that came out of last weekend's sentencing hearing.

"His drug use for one and I guess he had a few disorders there as well. That was information we didn't know anything about," he said.

Torckler hoped Yu will come out of prison a better man.

"Hopefully the time will do him some good."

Torckler said he held no grudges against the offender and just wanted to get on with his life.

"Forgiveness is a big part of that," he said yesterday. "You can't hold on to those sorts of things. You just have to press on."

Torckler, who suffered a broken arm and shattered facial bones that required reconstructive surgery, has made an amazing recovery from his injuries.

After more than two months of rehab, he made his return to racing in Taranaki's Round the Mountain road race in October.

Since then he has competed in the Tour of Southland.

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Torckler, 26, took a giant step forward last Saturday week finishing third in a field of more than 1500 riders in the 155km Round Lake Taupo race.

He is currently based in Auckland training for the New Zealand road racing championships in Christchurch next month.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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