CSP: Basalt man was headed wrong direction in accident
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
PITKIN COUNTY – The Colorado State Patrol has determined that a vehicle driven by a Basalt man was headed the wrong direction in a Feb. 29 head-on collision on Highway 82 in Snowmass Canyon.
Brenton Merlin, 48, of Basalt, was traveling west on the eastbound lanes at about 6 a.m., an updated report from the state patrol said. The Ford Escape driven by Merlin collided with a Nissan Frontier driven by Rodolfo Argueta, 47, of Glenwood Springs. Argueta was heading east in the eastbound lanes at the time of the accident.
Both men suffered serious injuries that were not life threatening, according to Trooper Bonnie Collins, an accident reconstructionist with the patrol. She declined to discuss their injuries.
Alcohol is suspected to be a factor in the crash, Collins said. The case remains under investigation, so she wouldn’t discuss the blood-alcohol content for Merlin. The state patrol’s report has been sent to the Pitkin County District Attorney’s Office for a decision on a charge or charges.
Collins said she is uncertain how Merlin ended up going the wrong direction on Highway 82. It is possible he spun out, then traveled the wrong direction, she said. Road conditions were icy with snow-packed spots that morning.
The eastbound lanes were closed for about two hours after the crash during the cleanup and investigation. Morning commuters bound for Aspen, Snowmass Village and other points upvalley were diverted onto Lower River Road.
The investigation was hindered because different information was given by witnesses. Several witnesses contacted the state patrol with additional information, Collins said.
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