Gerard Nieto was a dependable and hard-working man who had a big heart, according to a friend who spoke for him at a bail hearing for the man accused of leaving Nieto to die beside a highway after a pickup truck and Nieto’s bicycle collided last Friday.
A 22-year-old Summerville man turned himself in to Charleston Police Tuesday and was charged in the hit-and-run death of Nieto, 51, of Charleston.
Jason Frank Marion of Ayscough Road turned himself in with his attorney, Francis Humphries, and is charged with leaving the scene of a collision resulting in death, and failure to exercise due care, police spokesman Charles Francis said.
Magistrate Linda Lombard set bails for Marion totaling $101,092. He is being held at Cannon Detention Center.
According to warrants, Marion was driving a Ford F-150 about 1:24 a.m. Friday, when the truck approached Nieto’s bicycle from behind on Savannah Highway, near White Oak Drive. After the accident, Marion did not render aid, wait for police or report the accident, warrants maintain.
Humphries told Lombard that Marion is married, has a small child and is employed with a local building firm. In appealing for “moderate surety bond,” the attorney said Marion “substantially cooperated with law enforcement” when he voluntarily surrendered to police.
Some of Marion’s relatives and friends came to court with Humphries to support Marion. Henry Edwards, who said he’s known Nieto for 40 years, and lived and worked with him, spoke for the accident victim.
Nieto, Edwards said, worked odd jobs “and wasn’t afraid to get up in a tree with a chainsaw.”
Edwards’ 90-year-old mother was looked after and cared for by Nieto, “and she relied on him heavily,” Edwards said.
“He was a part of our family. He touched a lot of people’s lives. I hated to see him run over and left on the side of the road like that,” he added.
Nieto loved to ride his bike, Edwards said. He said that when Nieto didn’t come home, and after a story appeared in the Post and Courier about an unidentified man killed in a hit-and-run, he called the Charleston County Coroner’s Office and described Nieto for them.
“They said, ‘I’m sorry to tell you, that’s him’,” Edwards said.