No charges to be filed against Roaring Fork Transportation Authority driver

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia issued a statement on Monday saying that her office won’t pursue charges against the RFTA bus driver involved in an Oct. 26 crash on Highway 82 that resulted in injuries to 11 riders.

The accident occurred at about 7 p.m. that day in unincorporated Garfield County near the Catherine Store, just west of El Jebel. Three of the 11 riders were seriously injured, according to the Colorado State Patrol, which handled the investigation.

“The report and other documents were submitted to the Office of the District Attorney by Colorado State Patrol for consideration of filing of criminal or traffic charges,” Caloia stated. “The District Attorney is required to prove any violations of the law under a high standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. The District Attorney does not believe that they can prove any violation of the traffic or criminal laws beyond a reasonable doubt. The DA will not be filing any traffic or criminal charges against the bus driver.”

State police said the bus was westbound on an Aspen-to-Glenwood route when it came upon a slow-moving tractor ahead of it in the right lane. The back of the tractor, which was towing mowing equipment, had running and flashing lights but not a slow-moving-vehicle emblem as is required by law, police said.

The bus driver tried to avoid hitting the tractor with a quick move into the left lane but lost control, and the bus began to skid, police said. It passed the tractor, crossed the right lane and then struck a concrete barrier on the right shoulder. After hitting the barrier, the bus rolled and came to rest on its left side, police said.

Caloia’s statement said that the tractor driver will be cited with a traffic infraction for failing to have a slow-moving vehicle emblem properly mounted on the tractor.

The bus driver, Jaime Nunez, 54, of Glenwood Springs, did not seek medical treatment for his minor injuries, authorities said. He was placed on administrative leave following the accident, according to a RFTA official.

The day after the accident, a state policeman said the bus driver may have been speeding beyond the 65-mph limit, but a RFTA executive said GPS data suggested that he wasn’t. Following the crash, Nunez tested negative for drugs and alcohol, authorities said.