Driver cited in downtown Aspen fatal crash that killed 5-year-old from New York |

Driver cited in downtown Aspen fatal crash that killed 5-year-old from New York

Aspen Police taped off the area around the intersection of South Galena Street and East Hyman Avenue after a pedestrian-vehicle accident took place Sunday afternoon.
Maddie Vincent/The Aspen Times

The driver of the SUV that struck and killed a 5-year-old girl Sunday in downtown Aspen was identified Tuesday as a longtime Aspen real estate broker.

The girl, meanwhile, was identified as Hannah Heusgen, of New York City, who was visiting Aspen with her family, according to prior police statements and a Tuesday news release.

“The victim’s family is requesting privacy to cope with this tragedy,” the release states.

The driver of the 2018 GMC Acadia that struck Heusgen early Sunday afternoon was Heidi Houston, who was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor careless driving resulting in death. A message left Tuesday afternoon for Houston, 67, was not returned. 

“Heidi is just devastated by the accident and cannot stop thinking about the little girl and her family,” her attorney, Abraham Hutt, wrote in an email to The Aspen Times.

Houston was southbound on Galena Street and turning left on to Hyman Avenue, and the girl and her family were crossing Galena when the accident occurred at 12:33 p.m., according to the release.

The Heusgen family was crossing Galena diagonally from the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall to the northeast corner where the Ute Mountaineer outdoor store is located, according to an Aspen Police accident report.

After Houston struck the girl, she went under the SUV and became wedged beneath the rear passenger wheel, the report states. Heusgen was pronounced dead at Aspen Valley Hospital at 1 p.m.

Houston was not intoxicated at the time of the accident, the report states.

Careless driving resulting in death is a class one misdemeanor traffic offense punishable by between 10 days and a year in county jail.

“The investigation indicates that careless driving causing death is the appropriate charge,” prosecutor Don Nottingham said Tuesday. “We haven’t seen indications of intoxication, nor does it appear the actions of the driver were reckless or intentional.”

The Aspen Police press release included phone numbers for Mind Springs Health – 970-920-5555 – and the Aspen Hope Center – 970-925-5858 – for anyone who saw the accident scene or otherwise might need mental health assistance because of the incident. 

“This is, of course, a terrible tragedy,” Nottingham said. “Everyone involved – police, the DA’s Office, emergency personnel – our hearts break for this little girl and her family.”


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