Felony charges filed against Aspen teen who crashed Tesla into river, injured passengers

According to a Colorado State Patrol report, the Telsa that crashed into Maroon Creek on Nov. 7 was traveling nearly 75 mph on Maroon Creek Road before going nearly 300 feet off the road and into the water. The 18-year-old driver has been charged with two misdemeanors, including carless driving. All five Aspen teens inside were injured but survived the crash.
Courtesy photo

The District Attorney’s Office filed two felony counts of vehicular assault Friday against an Aspen teen at the wheel of a sport-utility vehicle that flew off Maroon Creek Road in November with four other local kids inside.

In addition to the felony counts, Joseph Lipsey IV, 18, of Aspen, also faces two counts of careless driving and one count of reckless driving, all misdemeanor traffic violations.

“Our review of the evidence indicated the defendant behaved recklessly,” prosecutor Don Nottingham said Friday.

Also, Lipsey’s actions caused serious bodily injury to two teenagers in the car, a requirement for the vehicular assault charges, Nottingham said.

A text message sent Friday to Lipsey seeking comment was not returned.

Lipsey was driving a 2017 Tesla X, which was traveling north at about 75 mph Nov. 7 on Maroon Creek Road near the T-Lazy 7 Ranch, according to an investigation by a Colorado State Patrol trooper. Just before the road makes a turn to the west, Lipsey lost control of the vehicle and it slid off the two-lane road, went airborne for 41 feet, struck a tree, continued 172 feet down an embankment and came to rest in the middle of Maroon Creek, the investigation found.

The trooper cited excessive speed and aggressive driving as contributing factors in the crash, though he chose to charge Lipsey with careless driving and driving without a valid license, both misdemeanors.

An 18-year-old girl sitting behind Lipsey suffered a head injury, broken arm and broken ribs, her mother said in November. Her injuries are the basis for one of the vehicular assault charges, according to court documents.

The injuries to an 18-year-old boy sitting next to her in the middle of the backseat, which include head injuries, facial fractures and a broken arm, form the basis for the second vehicular assault count, according to Nottingham and court documents.

Lipsey is scheduled to appear Tuesday in Pitkin County District Court.