Denver man was driver in high-speed chase that led to school, witnesses say
Three witnesses have come forward to say they saw a 31-year-old Denver man at the wheel of an SUV that led Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies on a high speed chase that ended near Aspen High School last fall.
That’s according to testimony Wednesday at a preliminary hearing, where District Judge Chris Seldin found probable cause to charge Marcus Trujillo with vehicular eluding. Trujillo also is charged with DUI, reckless driving, criminal mischief, violating an order of protection and driving under restraint for alcohol.
Prosecutor Andrea Bryan said she might file drug charges against Trujillo, as well, based on a search of the Nissan SUV he was driving that turned up possible drugs and paraphernalia.
Trujillo and a woman who was in the SUV with him during the chase have each accused the other of being the driver. Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies could not see inside the vehicle because of dark tinted windows.
Deputy Ryan Turner testified Wednesday that he was westbound on Highway 82 on Oct. 21 at about 5:30 p.m., when the Nissan Pathfinder passed him going 85 mph, according to his radar. He turned around, gave chase with his lights and sirens on and said he watched as the Nissan weaved in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed, passed cars on the shoulder and nearly crashed into one vehicle.
“It was driving in a manner I’ve never seen before in terms of reckless driving,” Turner said. “It’s just insanity.”
The SUV then headed up Maroon Creek Road at the roundabout west of town and took the first left into the Aspen public schools complex, he said.
“That’s the last place I was hoping this person would turn,” Turner said.
The vehicle barreled through the Aspen Middle School parking lot before veering on to a residential, dead-end street, he said. At that point, the driver drove through a yard, over two trees and into a rocky area, where the vehicle was “banging up and over rocks,” Turner said.
The vehicle ended up stranded on rocks near the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. Trujillo fled on foot and was apprehended at gunpoint in the backyard of a nearby home. The woman in the car, Querida Castellano, repeatedly told deputies Trujillo was the driver, Turner said.
Turner said he never saw who was driving.
Deputy George Kremer testified that two witnesses called dispatchers three days after the incident to say they saw the vehicle pass them as they stood in the Middle School parking lot. Both men said they were sure they saw a man driving the car, Kremer said.
Deputy Jesse Steindler, the agency’s patrol director, said he talked to another witness, who called the Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 9 and said he’d read an article in the paper “and felt it was his duty to come forward and say what he saw.”
That witness said he was waiting for the bus at the Aspen Business Center, when the Nissan passed by with the passenger side window down, Steindler said. He said he was 100 percent sure he saw a woman sitting in the passenger seat, he said.
Trujillo is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 20 to 26.
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