Basalt man killed crossing Hwy. 82 | AspenTimes.com

Basalt man killed crossing Hwy. 82

BASALT ” A Basalt man was struck by a car when he tried to dash across Highway 82 and get out of the rain Thursday night. He later died of his injuries.

Carlos Urbina, 67, exited a bus in the midvalley and tried to cross the highway ahead of traffic. Authorities believe he saw only one of two approaching cars. He was struck by the second car and died from his injuries at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs a short time later.

“It’s really a sad story,” said Basalt Police Sgt. Stu Curry, the investigator.

The driver initially fled. Juan Cruz, 27, of the El Jebel Mobile Home Park, returned within an hour and surrendered to police investigating at the scene.

Tests were negative for alcohol or drugs in Cruz’s system, Curry said. He was arrested for suspicion of failing to remain on the scene/giving information and/or aid after an accident resulting death, according to Basalt Police Chief Keith Ikeda. That is a class four felony.

Curry said there was no evidence that Cruz broke any traffic law. “The only reason he was arrested is he left the scene. You really have to stay and offer aid,” he said.

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Cruz remained Friday in Eagle County Jail. His bond was increased from $2,500 to $15,000 after a court hearing. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a “hold” on Cruz so the agency can investigate his residency status. Cruz’s home country is Honduras, Curry said.

The accident occurred at 10:45 p.m. near the intersection of Highway 82 and Original Road. Urbina lived across the highway in a townhouse at Willits. He worked at City Market in Aspen and as a maintenance man at the Hotel Jerome.

Urbina got off a bus at the stop near the intersection of the highway and Original Road. He tried to cut straight across the highway rather than back-track about one-half block to the traffic signal, which has a pedestrian light, Curry said.

Two vehicles were headed westbound or downvalley. Urbina’s view of the car in the left westbound lane might have been obscured by the car in the right lane, Curry said.

Urbina was struck by a Toyota Avalon driven by Cruz, Curry said. The impact threw Urbina into the windshield then onto the pavement. He was taken to Valley View by a Basalt ambulance crew.

Cruz panicked after the accident, crossed the median, then turned right onto East Valley Road and proceeded downvalley, Curry said. Cruz returned to the scene less than one hour after the accident and confessed to hitting the pedestrian.

“He didn’t know how badly he was injured,” Curry said. “He knew he had to do the right thing.”

Witnesses provided a description of the vehicle and a partial license plate number, so the vehicle likely would have been traced, authorities said. It is less certain if Cruz could have been arrested without an alleged confession. Curry said he thought Cruz was returning home from his job as a cook at an Aspen restaurant.

A more severe charge of vehicular homicide didn’t apply in the case, Ikeda said, because there was no reckless driving nor drug or alcohol use by the driver.

Urbina is survived by his wife, brother, two nephews and a niece who all live in the area.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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