Man, 21, pleads not guilty in hit-and-run crash that killed bicyclist in Solana Beach
Beau Morgans is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and three other felonies in June 22 death of Allen Hunter II
A 21-year-old man accused of driving while drunk and fleeing after fatally striking a bicyclist this summer in Solana Beach pleaded not guilty Friday, Oct. 29, to charges related to the crash.
Lucas Beau Morgans was arraigned in Vista Superior Court on felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hit-and-run causing death and two counts related to driving under the influence of alcohol.
If convicted, Morgans would face up to 16 years in prison. In an emailed statement, defense attorney Michael Harkness said Morgans “is prepared to accept full responsibility for his actions,” but Harkness believes “the main charge against him is overstated.”
Morgans, a Solana Beach resident, is accused of leaving a June 22 crash after striking 75-year-old cyclist and retired physicist Allen Hunter II on South Coast Highway 101 near Lomas Santa Fe Drive.
Allen Hunter II and Swati Tyagi both came to San Diego to work in science; Hunter was killed June 22, and Tyagi was killed the next day
Deputy District Attorney David Jarman said Morgans struck Hunter from behind about 10:30 a.m. He surrendered to authorities about an hour later at a Sheriff’s Department station in Encinitas.
Harkness wrote in his statement that his client fled “out of sheer panic and without malice,” and went home to tell his family what happened. “Less than 24 minutes after the collision, arrangements were underway for him to self-surrender to law enforcement, which he did within 20 minutes.”
Morgans’ blood-alcohol content was 0.169 percent — more than twice the legal limit at which drivers in California are considered impaired — about 90 minutes after the crash, Jarman said Friday, Oct. 29, in a phone interview.
Witnesses called 911 after the crash and paramedics took the gravely wounded, unconscious victim to a hospital, according to sheriff’s officials and the county Medical Examiner’s Office. Hunter died that evening from multiple blunt force injuries.
Hunter’s son, Allen Hunter III, described his father in a July interview as upbeat, optimistic, caring and funny.
“He was brilliant, efficient and hard working,” Hunter III said of his father, who earned a doctorate in physics from Ohio State University while serving full-time in the Air Force. “He was also one of the most moral, ethical and decent human beings I’ve ever known.”
Harkness wrote that his client has “cooperated fully with (the) investigation” and “is extremely remorseful and wishes there was a way for him to trade places” with the victim.
“He prays for Mr. Hunter’s family daily and desperately wants them to know how sorry he is,” Harkness wrote. “Beau has been in residential alcohol treatment since the accident and is dedicated to a sober and principled life where he hopes this experience can be turned to good use to help others.”
A day after Hunter was fatally struck, another scientist — 34-year-old Swati Tyagi, a mother to a young boy and a postdoctoral researcher at the Salk Institute — was struck from behind and killed while bicycling. Tyagi died at the scene of the crash on North Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla.
Morgans posted $300,000 bail shortly after his arrest and was released from jail. A judge Friday, Oct. 29, ordered him to remain in the Los Angeles County residential treatment program, or install an alcohol-monitoring device on his vehicle if he leaves the program, the prosecutor said.
The judge also ordered Morgans not to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in his system, Jarman said.
Get the Del Mar Times in your inbox
Top stories from Carmel Valley, Del Mar and Solana Beach every Friday for free.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Del Mar Times.