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November 6, 2012
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El Jebel woman gets probation in road rage incident

ASPEN - A judge ordered an El Jebel woman Monday to undergo a domestic-violence evaluation and one year of unsupervised probation as part of a sentence stemming from her May actions that led to a five-car accident on Highway 82.

Ivania Jesenia Alvarez-Lopez, 33, pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor. In exchange, prosecutor Arnold Mordkin dropped a felony menacing count and a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence.

"I am embarrassed for what I have done," Alvarez-Lopez told Judge Gail Nichols through a translator during a hearing in Pitkin County District Court. "I know just by saying sorry doesn't fix everything."

Nichols responded, "It does appear that getting angry only got you in more trouble and didn't result in anything positive." The judge added that Alvarez-Lopez "did something fairly stupid."

She was referring to Alvarez-Lopez' actions on May 31, when she suspected her husband was having an affair with a 16-year-old girl he was giving a ride to Basalt High School that morning.

Police say Alvarez-Lopez followed husband Carlos Israel Diaz to the school in a separate vehicle. Diaz sped away on a school road when he realized Alvarez-Lopez was tailing him before she rammed the minivan she was driving into the back of the van Diaz was driving.

Diaz fled the scene, zipped through streets in the Southside subdivision to Highway 82 and then headed west at a high rate of speed, according to authorities.

Both drivers then ran the red light at the intersection of Highway 82 and Willits Lane. Alvarez-Lopez's vehicle struck the front of an Audi before sideswiping a BMW and subsequently colliding head-on with a Dodge Stratus that was slowing as it came to the intersection. The Stratus was knocked backward into a stopped Toyota Tundra pickup.

Despite the accident, Diaz managed to take the 16-year-old to school. The girl, whose mother was Alvarez-Lopez's passenger during the pursuit, later met with Basalt police at the high school, according to police records. The girl, who rented a room in the same house inhabited by the embattled couple, told police that Alvarez-Lopez had suspected she and Diaz had been having an affair. The girl told police that she feared for her life when Alvarez-Lopez rammed them from behind, begging Diaz to "Let me out, let me get out!" court records say.

Diaz was deported to his home country of El Salvador after the incident, which spawned criminal charges against him, as well.

Alvarez-Lopez remains in the county legally, though her immigration status had been jeopardized by the incident. She has two children, a 13-year-old son and 1-year-old baby.

Nichols said she was encouraged that Alvarez-Lopez owned up to her mistake and was trying to get on the right track.

"Somehow you conveyed to the court that you really were taking this seriously," Nichols said.

Carbondale attorney Chip McCrory represented Alvarez-Lopez.

"She realized getting angry about this was not the way to handle it," he said.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Nov 6, 2012 06:55AM Published Nov 6, 2012 12:46AM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.