Charges contemplated in fatal car wreck
A father who lost his daughter in a fatal car crash on Highway 82 earlier this month could face charges for the accident, according to authorities.
An accident report by the Basalt Police Department indicates that Bob Keenan, 45, of Basalt, was at fault for the June 5 accident. His daughter, Kate, 11, died almost instantly when Keenan’s pickup truck was hit by another vehicle.
Bob Keenan was headed upvalley on Highway 82 when the accident occurred. When he turned west onto Two Rivers Road he drove into the path of a truck driven by Mickey Steele, 41, of Silt, which was headed downvalley.
No charges are being contemplated against Steele, according to the accident report.
The police department hopes to forward a final report to Eagle County District Attorney Michael Goodbee in the next week for a decision on charges against Keenan, according to Basalt Police Chief Jim Stryker.
Stryker said his office would “probably” send a recommendation to the district attorney along with the final report.
“My recommendation would be to take into consideration his loss and the family’s tragedy,” Stryker said. “We feel that if a mistake was made, the man has suffered enough.”
But the police chief said his staff and the district attorney also have an obligation to uphold the law – a point prosecutor Goodbee also emphasized.
Goodbee said he must base his decision strictly on whether there is enough evidence to support prosecution of charges. Bob Keenan’s loss – while certainly tragic – cannot enter into that decision, he said.
The district attorney said he is aware of the case from discussions with Basalt Police Department personnel. But until he receives and studies the final police report, he won’t have an opinion on whether a charge or charges are warranted.
“Making decisions along these lines are always difficult,” said Goodbee. “Clearly there are cases where accidents simply happen and no crime is committed. I don’t know if this is one of them.”
There is evidence that there was confusion at the intersection of Highway 82 and Two Rivers Road at the time of the crash. Both vehicles involved in the accident proceeded through the intersection during a yellow light, according to the report.
A vehicle heading downvalley in front of Steele stopped for the yellow light, the report said. Steele didn’t think he could stop in time, so he changed from the right lane to the left lane and proceeded through the intersection, authorities said.
Keenan, approaching the intersection from the opposite direction, saw the vehicle in the right lane stopping and attempted to make the turn. Keenan’s 1995 GMC pickup was hit on the passenger side by Steele’s truck, which was hauling a trailer with construction equipment.
Kate Keenan was wearing a seatbelt but it didn’t help because of the impact of the crash, according to Stryker.
Kate officially died en route to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs. The popular 11-year-old girl’s death devastated friends throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.
Flowers and a cross inscribed with “God’s Angel” have been placed in her memory at the intersection.
Bob Keenan was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital with injuries sustained in the accident; he is now recovering at home. Steele wasn’t injured.
Stryker said there is no evidence that drugs or alcohol were a factor in the wreck.
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