Basalt High teen killed in rollover crash in Missouri Heights; driver in custody

Tyler Ribich, 16, was ejected from the vehicle; second passenger sustained serious injuries

Tyler Ribich
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In a letter to parents, Basalt High School principal Peter Mueller said there would be grief councilors at the school Monday. As well, he gave contacts for more assistance:

What you can do at home to support your children

Here is some information and resources for anyone who is helping a grieving student. If you are concerned about or need extra support for your child, please don't hesitate to reach out to our school counselors at 970-384-5959, Mind Springs Health at 970-945-2583, or the Aspen Hope Center at 970-925-5858.

Tyler Ribich, a 16-year-old junior at Basalt High School, was killed Friday night after the car he was in lost control and rolled off a road in Missouri Heights, law enforcement and school officials said Saturday.

Cpl. Ivan Alvarado, a State Patrol spokesman, said five teenagers were in the vehicle and alcohol likely was involved with the 18-year-old driver, who has not been identified and remains in custody.

Alvarado said Saturday afternoon that one person was in the hospital with serious injuries and the three other occupants, including the driver, had minor injuries.

In a letter to parents Saturday afternoon, Basalt High School principal Peter Mueller said Ribich was the passenger who died.

“He was just elected to serve as one of two head students in his senior year, having given an election speech to the entire student body last week,” according to a post on the school’s Facebook page. “He brought down the house as Jack Scott in the school’s production of ‘High School Musical’ this winter. He sang in Men’s Chorus, and rapped in front of hundreds during Choir Coffeehouse last December.”

Mueller wrote that grief counselors would be at the school Monday. He said the family is asking for privacy during this “incredibly difficult time.”

“Families are welcome to send letters of support to BHS, and staff will deliver them to the family,” Mueller wrote.

Alvarado said the four who were injured were taken to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs. He did not have the exact ages of the passengers, but said they all were teenagers.

The accident happened around 11:45 p.m. Friday nearly two miles up Garfield County Road 102 (Fender Lane) from Highway 82, he said.

“They lost control and collided with a large rock,” Alvarado said. “It rolled and a couple of the occupants were ejected.”

He said “alcohol is definitely being investigated,” and the speed of the vehicle was not on the initial report.

According to the Garfield County Jail’s inmate log, only one 18-year-old male was booked into the jail Saturday and is the only inmate facing vehicle homicide charges.

CSP would not release the driver’s name Saturday, and The Aspen Times could not confirm the man booked Saturday was the same person involved in the crash and is withholding his name at this time.

However, the 18-year-old booked into the jail Saturday faces charges that include vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, assault in the third degree, driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and illegal possession or consumption of ethyl alcohol by an underage person, according to the inmate log.  

He remains in custody and will not be released until he goes before a judge, according to a deputy at the jail.

Garfield County Coroner Rob Glassmire said Ribich was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:10 a.m. Saturday.

“Tyler Ribich was a passenger in the motor vehicle and ejected from the vehicle dying instantly, investigators do not believe he was wearing a seat belt,” Glassmire said in a news release. “An autopsy will be scheduled for early next week.”

Glassmire said his office “cannot speculate if there was alcohol or drugs involved, if speed was a factor, or any other circumstances of the motor vehicle crash. The Colorado State Patrol is investigating the cause of the vehicle crash and surrounding circumstances.”

Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority Chief Scott Thompson was one of the first on scene and said the crash occurred just past where the road takes a 90-degree turn to the right and becomes Garfield County.

He said the call came in as two people ejected and three trapped in the car. A total of two fire trucks and four ambulances were sent to the scene between Thompson’s department and the Carbondale Fire Department, he said.

Those ejected did not have seat belts on, Alvarado said. He said two passengers were wearing seat belts and the other was unknown.

A Basalt High official said Saturday evening that the fifth annual Color Run 5K, which is a fundraiser put on by the National Honor Society students, is still scheduled for Sunday morning.

Missouri Heights is a community near Carbondale and El Jebel in the Roaring Fork Valley.


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