Driver, car owner sued in fatal crash |

Driver, car owner sued in fatal crash

Steve Lynn
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colo. ” The parents of a man who died in a roundabout crash last year are suing a local woman and a man accused of letting the woman drive his car.

The parents of Matthew Lopez, 23, of Wheat Ridge, are suing Candace E. Calvin, 23, and John J. Cornell III, both of Eagle County.

The lawsuit, filed in December in Eagle County District Court, contends “wrongful death.” Parents can claim “wrongful death” if they think a person is responsible for their son or daughter’s death.

Colorado State troopers said they tried to stop Calvin, who was speeding and weaving in a Honda Accord while headed west on Interstate 70 near Dowd Junction on Feb. 22, 2007.

After exiting the highway, Calvin reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour on Highway 6 before hitting a raised median bar­rier, striking a pole, then rolling through the island of the roundabout at William J. Post Boulevard in Avon, authorities said. Lopez was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. A graduate of Wheat Ridge High School and Community College of Denver, Lopez moved to the Vail Valley to snowboard and had lived in Avon for six weeks before his death.

Diana and Martin Lopez, of suburban Denver, are suing for the cost of Lopez’s funeral and burial and for “emotional and psychological injury,” the lawsuit says. A jury may determine the amount of money the parents get, the lawsuit says.

Cornell knew or should have known that Calvin had a history of alcohol abuse and that her license had been suspended and should not have let Calvin use his Honda Accord on Feb. 22, 2007, the lawsuit says. Calvin and Cornell’s actions were “negligent, careless and reckless,” the lawsuit says. Cor­nell’s number was unlisted, and he could not be reached for comment.

Neither he nor Calvin have attorneys, said Jackie Cooper, clerk of court for Eagle Coun­ty Combined Courts.

Calvin’s mother, Lee Caretto, said her daughter’s cell phone was disconnected.

Caretto said her daughter is not a criminal and has given several lectures at Battle Mountain High School in Eagle-Vail about drunken driving since the crash. Calvin was not ordered by the court to give those speeches, the goal of which are to prevent drunken driving accidents, Caretto said.

“That’s what this girl is all about,” Caretto said.

Since the crash, Calvin has had positive feedback from people about her speeches, Caretto said.

“She’s earned her keep here and she’s very, very, very well-loved,” Caretto said.

In January, Calvin pleaded guilty to vehic­ular homicide. She faces up to eight years in prison.

During the crash, Lopez was wearing a seat belt and Calvin was not, the State Patrol said. Calvin’s blood alcohol content was more than double the legal limit of .08, according to an arrest warrant.

The fatal crash was the second time Calvin had been caught driving while her license was suspended, but an arrest affidavit does not say why she lost her license.

Calvin is scheduled to be sentenced Mon­day.

Michael McNally and Carlos Leal, attor­neys for Lopez’s parents, did not return phone calls and e-mails requesting com­ment on the lawsuit.

Martin Lopez declined comment and Diana Lopez did not immediately return a telephone message requesting comment Tuesday.

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