DA mulls charges in fatal crash
The district attorney’s office has been asked to consider vehicular homicide charges against Aspen High School student Dustin Hite in the June 24 accident that killed his friend and classmate, 17-year-old Alex Terral.The Colorado State Patrol on Monday presented the results of its monthlong investigation of the accident to the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office. According to a state patrol press release, “the case has been accepted for consideration of criminal prosecution for vehicular homicide charges against the driver of the vehicle.”Hite, 17, lost control of his 1991 Mercedes a mile east of Aspen on Highway 82. Terral, who was riding in the front seat, was ejected when the car rolled. He was flown to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction; he died four days later. Hite and another passenger, Max Bardell, were not seriously injured.District Attorney Mac Myers confirmed his office is reviewing the case, but would not elaborate on the state patrol’s findings or recommendation.”Basically what we’re doing is reviewing the evidence to see what charges may be appropriate, if any,” he said Tuesday. “We make the decision on whether or not to file charges.”State patrol Capt. Benjamin Bratt would not say what led investigators to ask the district attorney’s office to consider vehicular homicide charges. Police confirmed in early July that Hite was exceeding the speed limit; neither Bratt nor Myers would comment on whether a rumor that Hite was racing another driver or passing on the right-hand side of the road was found to be true.”I can’t comment on what’s in the report at this time,” said Myers. “But all the factors going into reckless conduct that would cause a death will be considered.”Vehicular homicide is applicable if the driver of a car that kills a person is under the influence of alcohol or is driving recklessly; alcohol is not a factor in the Hite case, according to Myers.”We’re looking to see if there was criminal conduct,” he said. “Certainly we know someone was killed in a car accident … now we’re looking at the circumstances surrounding that.” Vehicular homicide is a felony that carries a presumptive sentence of two to six years. A decision on whether to file charges should be made in about a week, according to Myers.Jeanne McGovern’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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