Coroner: Driver in crash intoxicated
August 13, 2008
SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” Hector Quezada was legally intoxicated and under the influence of cocaine and marijuana when he took the wheel of his friend’s Isuzu Trooper that crashed Sunday night on Owl Creek Road, according to toxicology reports released Tuesday.
Quezada, 33, an employee at the Silvertree Conference Center in Snowmass, died in the rollover; three other men escaped serious injury.
According to Pitkin County Coroner Michael Ferrara, Quezada’s blood alcohol level was in excess of .1 percent (.08 percent is the legal limit). Ferrara went on to say that toxicology tests “came back positive for both cocaine and marijuana.”
The 33-year-old Quezada was ejected from the Trooper after it swerved four times and eventually rolled on the downhill portion of Owl Creek Road, according to Sgt. Brian Olson, who is acting police chief while Art Smythe is on vacation. The three other passengers, Moses “Mo” Mogollon, 33; Ryan Williams, 29; and Brandon Howard, 26; escaped with minor injuries ” a fact that Olson said was “darn lucky.”
Williams was the only passenger in the car wearing a seatbelt, something that may have saved his life.
“If you are ejected from a vehicle, your potential of being killed is 12 times greater” than if you remain inside, Ferrara said.
Recommended Stories For You
The coroner determined Quezada’s death was “accidental” while the cause was “multisystems blunt trauma.”
The Trooper was owned by Howard; Sgt. Olson said that, “we believe Hector was driving but we are going a step further in trying to compile physical evidence to support that.” Ferrara and other staffers were not able to definitively determine whether or not Quezada was driving at the time of the crash.
“We looked for patterns of injury which would suggest (Quezada’s) place in the vehicle. All (the doctor could say was) they were consistent with someone who had been partially ejected from the vehicle,” said Ferrara.
Prior to the accident, the men enjoyed a round of golf at the Aspen Golf Club, a favorite sport of Quezada’s. Olson said he has evidence to suggest that after the men left the golf course, they contacted some people to try and get rides back home. Apparently, they were unsuccessful in that quest.
“He was a great golfer,” said Andrew Huck, who had enjoyed Hector’s company earlier on that ill-fated day. “He was in good spirits, he seemed perfectly fine to us.”
Huck worked with Quezada at the Silvertree and described his friend as someone “who was a great worker.”
“He did things to the best of his ability. He was just a happy person in general,” Huck added.
Allison Campbell, Director of Conference Services for the Silvertree, noted that Quezada “made everybody smile. You always got a hug and a smile from him.”
Crisis counselors were scheduled to come to the hotel Tuesday to meet with employees and “anyone who wants to talk about (the accident),” said the Silvertree’s vice-president of operations, Lance Burwell.
Burwell said he believed Quezada, who worked in banquet services, had been employed with the company for “maybe three years.” He had returned to the Silvertree in March after a brief respite.
Quezada this year had relocated to Glenwood Springs from the Village in order to be closer to his family, Andrew Huck said.
Annette Docimo was driving home to Aspen Sunday evening after a long day of work at Spencer’s when she spotted the approaching SUV on Owl Creek Road.
“It was going so fast over the speed bumps it was almost airborne,” said Docimo. “I didn’t think anything about it other than it was going way too fast.”
Another driver, who witnessed the same thing as Docimo, called the police to report a vehicle “traveling at a high rate of speed,” according to Sgt. Olson. That person couldn’t be reached for comment on this article.
The speed limit for that section of road is 35 mph.
Investigators have been able to piece together information that after the Trooper crested the Sinclair Divide hill, it went off the road several times, forcing the driver to overcorrect on four separate occasions. That caused the Trooper to start “traveling sideways,” and eventually it rolled, ejecting Quezada and spilling out most of the contents of the car including cell phones and unopened bottles of beer, according to Sgt. Olson. The car landed across the street from the town shop, but did not travel down the ravine.
One occupant, Mogollon, left the site of the accident, according to Olson who added, “Mo grabbed a ride from the scene. We’re not treating it like a fleeing of the scene. There’s no indication he was running away. My understanding is, they couldn’t make any cell phone calls” so perhaps he was going to find help or was traumatized by what Olson called “the horrific nature of the scene.”
Mogollon could not be reached for comment.
CPR was performed on the victim and he was transported to Aspen Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased..
The Snowmass Village Police Department is continuing its investigation into the accident.