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Guilty verdict for man who hit cyclist, leaving him partially blind

A Cuban cigar executive has been found guilty of driving drunk and causing a 2008 collision that left a cyclist partially blind.

Jose Lugo-Alonso, 61, was found guilty of impaired driving causing bodily harm in a ruling on Wednesday by Ontario Superior Court Justice Harriet Sachs.

On the night of July 31, 2008, Lugo-Alonso struck cyclist William Crawford, 57, with his minivan as Crawford was waiting to turn left from Jarvis St. onto the Esplanade. The accident left Crawford partially blind and hearing impaired, forcing him to give up his civil service job.

“If Mr. Lugo-Alonso had not been impaired he would have seen Mr. Crawford’s bicycle and stopped,” Sachs said in the ruling. “I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Lugo-Alonso’s impairment was a significant contributing cause of the accident.”

Dressed in a crisp white suit, the president of Havana House Cigars and Tobacco Merchants Ltd. sat with his head bowed throughout most of the ruling, a translator by his side.

In his testimony last week, Lugo-Alonso admitted to drinking at least four ounces of rum shortly before his minivan struck Crawford, but said he did not feel impaired.

Forensic toxicologist Jean-Paul Palmentier later testified that, based on breathalyzer samples Lugo-Alonso later blew, he would have had 145 to 205 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of his blood at the time of the accident, well over the legal limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

Crawford, who testified last week he has no memory of the accident, wasn’t present at Wednesday’s ruling.

Lugo-Alonso, a married father of two, will be sentenced on Oct. 17. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.