Keenan won’t be charged in wreck
A father whose 11-year-old daughter was killed in an accident while he was driving on Highway 82 last month won’t face any charges on traffic violations, authorities decided Tuesday.
The father, Robert Keenan, has already suffered enough because of the death of his daughter, Katherine, said Eagle County District Attorney Michael Goodbee.
In a memo to the Basalt Police Department, Goodbee said he felt there was sufficient evidence to charge Keenan for an illegal left turn. But Goodbee said he would exercise his discretion to avoid filing a charge.
“There are indeed cases in which justice should be tempered with compassion, empathy and equity,” wrote Goodbee. “In my opinion, this is one of those cases.
“Quite simply I believe that this is the right thing to do under the unique and tragic circumstances of this particular case. I therefore choose to exercise my discretion to not file.”
In an interview, Goodbee said his staff of 10 attorneys held a reg
ular monthly meeting Tuesday night to discuss a variety of cases. They discussed the Keenan case for an hour.
“Everybody agreed that there was enough evidence to charge illegal left turn,” said Goodbee. “Everybody also basically agreed, `What purpose does it serve?’ “
Keenan didn’t return a message left at his home, but his attorney, Arnold Mordkin, said he felt it was “the proper decision.”
The accident occurred June 5 at 5 p.m. when Keenan attempted to turn left from upvalley-bound Highway 82 onto Two Rivers Road on the west end of the Basalt Bypass. He turned into the path of a truck driven by Mickey Steele, who was headed downvalley.
Kate was killed instantly. Bob Keenan was treated for injuries at Aspen Valley Hospital. Steele was uninjured.
Friends and family have memorialized Kate with a cross at the intersection along with teddy bears and flowers. The Colorado Department of Transportation changed the traffic signals at the intersection so left-hand turns are allowed only on green arrows. That allows what is known as “protected” turns.
The charges contemplated by the Basalt Police Department in the accident were careless driving resulting in death and illegal left turn. Goodbee’s memo indicated he concluded there was “insufficient evidence to ethically charge” Keenan for careless driving.
The illegal left turn charge seemed to be meaningless punishment considering what Keenan and his family have suffered, Goodbee’s memo suggested.
“The defendant lost his child due to his own conduct,” Goodbee wrote. “Three points against a driver’s record and $55 fine pale in comparison to the awful loss of his child.”
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