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Musician Carlos Bertonatti Charged in Fatal DUI Key Biscayne Crash; Bikers Outraged

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An up-and-coming Miami pop singer with slick looks and a Sony recording contract has been charged with vehicular homicide in a horrific hit-and-run crash near Key Biscayne yesterday.

Carlos Bertonatti, a 28-year-old who lives on Key Biscayne, was arrested yesterday near his battered Volkswagen after a short police chase.

Officers say Bertonatti was drunk when he slammed into Christophe Le Canne, a 44-year-old South Miami cyclist, and then sped away with Le Canne's bike lodged under his front fender as the biker lay bleeding to death next to the road.

Miami cyclists today have flooded websites with comments slamming the singer and rescue units, which witnesses said took 20 minutes to arrive from Miami instead of from the nearby Key Biscayne firehouse.

Bertonatti released his first album for Sony, Times Are Good, in 2008. You can check out his MySpace profile here and his Rolling Stone artist's page here. His MySpace page has drawn more than 300,000 hits.

Here's what happened Sunday, according to police:

Just before 8:10 a.m., Le Canne was biking in the eastbound bike lane on Bear Cut Bridge, the last link on the Rickenbacker Causeway before Key Biscayne. Bertonatti was driving eastbound as well when he swerved into the bike lane and slammed into Le Canne.

Bertonatti kept speeding east with Le Canne's bike lodged under his car, says Det. Rebecca Perez, a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Police Department.

A Key Biscayne officer tried to stop Bertonatti just after he crossed the bridge, Perez says, but he sped away.

Finally, the singer stopped on the 600 block of Grapetree Drive, near the posh apartment where he's listed as a resident. Police arrested him on the spot.

On the Miami Bike Scene blog, witnesses say medics didn't arrive for more than 20 minutes after the accident while Le Canne bled profusely.

Perez tells Riptide that Miami-Dade dispatchers received a call about the accident at 8:08 a.m. and that the first officers arrived at 8:13 a.m.

But it's not clear when ambulances first arrived. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's administrative offices are closed for MLK Day, so no one has responded to our calls about when Lecanne finally received medical attention.

Bertonatti, meanwhile, looks to have thrown a promising career out the window. According to his MySpace bio, he was born in Caracas and spent time training with the Argentine ski team before moving to Miami in his late teens to work with Chris Rodriguez, a multiplatinum local producer.

He signed with Epic Records and Sony ATV in 2008 to release his debut album.

UPDATE: Carlos Bertonatti's publicist, Patty Rodriguez, just sent Riptide an email about the singer's arrest. Here's what she says:

This has been a terrible tragedy that resulted from this accident, and both Carlos and his family are devastated. Lives were changed forever, and two families are grieving and going through an extremely difficult time. Carlos' wish at this time is for everyone's thoughts and prayers to be with the victim and his family. He is profusely saddened and shocked with what has happened, and his hopes are that we all reach out to help the family at this time for their loss. Him [sic] and his entire family extend their deepest condolences and pray that God accompany both families in such a devastating time.

UPDATE 2: On a bike forum, a cyclist who witnessed the accident has written a firsthand account about what he saw. You can read the whole passage here.

The cyclist says that another biker, who works as a paramedic, had stopped to help Le Canne until police arrived with a hand-operated respirator. An ambulance didn't arrive for "almost half an hour," he writes.

After Le Canne was loaded into the ambulance, the bikers got word Bertonatti had been arrested outside his house. They rode together to Key Biscayne, where they saw his Volkswagen. "Based on the damage, the guy had to be going 60+ mph," he writes.

The cyclists could see Bertonatti in the back of a squad car. "He's lucky the cops had him because there was an angry mob of cyclists who wanted revenge," says the author.

"I can't fathom how someone can hit another human being and just take off and leave the person on the side of the road like he had hit a dog," he adds.  

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