Affidavit: Aspen motorist was high on marijuana at time of fatal crash on Highway 82
The Aspen motorist who authorities suspect struck and killed a pedestrian on Highway 82 on Friday night passed a preliminary breath test but failed a roadside sobriety test and was under the influence of marijuana, a state trooper alleged in an arrest-warrant affidavit released Monday by Pitkin County District Court.
Christopher Fish, 49, posted $10,000 bond Saturday after being booked the night before in Pitkin County Jail on eight pending criminal counts, including separate felony charges of vehicular homicide and failing to remain at the scene after an accident involving death.
The Colorado State Patrol, the lead agency in the investigation, confirmed that Aspen Village resident Michael Campion, 54, was the victim.
Fish’s first court appearance is scheduled Sept. 17. Denver criminal-defense attorney Pamela Mackey confirmed by email that Fish has retained her for his defense. Mackey, who defended Kobe Bryant in his Eagle County sexual assault case and former Colorado Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy in his domestic violence case, declined to discuss the Fish matter. Fish also turned down an interview request from The Aspen Times.
One witness to the crash said he saw Campion run across the two westbound or downvalley lanes of Highway 82 at the intersection of Basalt Avenue, then briefly paused in a turn lane before attempting to cross the road’s eastbound side.
“From what I saw, he was hit in front of the car upon initial impact and thrown forward, and the (vehicle) continued to drive and pull him underneath,” said Travis Norton, who said he submitted a witness statement to the Colorado State Patrol on Monday.
Norton said he and his girlfriend were driving home to Carbondale from Aspen when they saw Campion crossing the highway.
It was dark and visibility was limited at the time of the crash, Norton said.
“He crossed about 75 yards ahead of us,” he said. “It was pitch black, but I was able to make out a silhouette of his legs running.”
Norton said he “didn’t know how anybody could have stopped. … It’s almost like he jumped out in front of it.”
Fish was driving a white Ford F-250 pickup truck in the left lane when it struck Campion, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit was written by State Trooper Charles Hiller, who arrived 1 mile upvalley from the crash, where Fish had stopped his vehicle on the eastbound shoulder of Highway 82. Basalt police were on the scene when Hiller arrived, but they had not detained nor questioned Fish at the time.
Also present was Fish’s girlfriend, who was a passenger in the Ford truck at the time of the accident. Both seemed to be having a difficult time and were chain-smoking cigarettes, the affidavit said.
“He told me that he saw a person running across the highway from his left to right, and could not stop in time,” the trooper said in the affidavit, adding that Fish also said he was driving in the left lane at a clip of 45 miles per hour.
In a written statement, Fish added that he coasted to a stop because he was in shock, the affidavit said. The vehicle was damaged to the point that Fish had to stop it, the affidavit said.
Hiller wrote that he spotted two open beer containers inside a brown bag, as well as a marijuana pipe, a container with pot, and two vaping devices for cannabis in Fish’s vehicle. Fish said his girlfriend had been drinking in the vehicle earlier that night.
Fish also said he had smoked marijuana when he got off work at 5 and that he uses it for anxiety. Prior to driving upvalley, Fish and his girlfriend dined at a Mexican restaurant in Glenwood Springs, and Fish told the trooper that he drank one bottle of Modelo beer at approximately 8:30 p.m.
A preliminary, portable breath test — which was completed at 9:48 p.m. — revealed no alcohol in Fish’s system, the affidavit says. Hiller then administered a roadside sobriety test on Fish at approximately 10:05 p.m.
“He did not complete the roadside maneuvers as a sober person,” Hiller’s affidavit said. “He was arrested for the suspicion of driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.”
Fish consented to three blood draws at Aspen Valley Hospital before he was taken to jail. The results of those samples are pending.
Fish also submitted to what’s called a drug recognition evaluation that was performed on him by Basalt Police Sgt. Aaron Munch, who told Hiller that he believed Fish was under the influence of marijuana, according to the affidavit.
“After the blood draws were completed, I informed Mr. Fish that he would be taken to the Pitkin County Jail, and he asked why,” Hiller’s affidavit said. “When I informed him of the charges he did not seem worried about the felony charges or going to jail, but instead was more worried about … his passenger. I informed him that (his girlfriend) was given a courtesy ride by one of the officers on the scene, and that she was in a safe location. He was booked into the Pitkin County Jail.”
In addition to the felony charges, Fish faces the lesser counts of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, failure to report an accident, possession of open alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle, possession of open marijuana container in a vehicle, driving without using a safety belt, and driving with a passenger not secured by a safety belt.