Plea offer in works for defendant in traffic fatality at CMC intersection south of Glenwood Springs
A preliminary hearing for a man charged with vehicular homicide following a fatal crash on Colorado Highway 82 near Glenwood Springs in December has been waived, in lieu of a pending plea agreement.
The 9th District Attorney’s Office agreed Monday morning to the request by Juan Escobar Rosales to waive what had been scheduled for a several-hours-long preliminary hearing before District Judge John Neiley.
Escobar Rosales, 23, was allegedly high on methamphetamine and driving a stolen vehicle when he caused the crash around 8 a.m. Dec. 30, 2020, as eastbound motorists were stopped for the traffic light at the CMC Road/County Road 154 intersection.
According to Colorado State Patrol reports, Escobar Rosales’ Chevrolet truck slammed into the rear of a Buick sedan driven by Diane Olson, 57, of Glenwood Springs.
Olson died of her injuries the following day and a passenger in her vehicle was seriously injured.
Escobar Rosales was arrested several weeks later after an extensive State Patrol investigation into the incident.
He has been charged with felony vehicular homicide, aggravated motor vehicle theft, vehicular assault and theft, plus misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence of drugs and driving without a valid license.
Escobar Rosales is a Salvadoran national, according to court records, and has remained in the Garfield County Jail on an immigration hold since his Jan. 27 arrest.
Public defender Alex Haynes advised the judge at the start of Monday’s hearing that a plea agreement has been in the works for the past several weeks, and that Escobar Rosales wished to waive the preliminary hearing stage. The hearing would have determined if there was enough evidence to take the case to trial.
The case was continued to an arraignment hearing Nov. 18, during which a plea is anticipated, Haynes said.
Following the crash, Olson, her passenger and Escobar Rosales were all taken to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs. Olson was pronounced dead the next day from her injuries, while Escobar Rosales and the passenger were treated and released.
Interviewed by the investigating State Patrol troopers at the time, Escobar Rosales indicated that he didn’t see that traffic was stopped because of sun glare. He also indicated he was going about 60 mph when the crash occurred. The speed limit in that stretch is 55 mph.
Escobar Rosales was initially released on a summons for careless driving causing injury and no valid driver’s license.
He also told the investigating officers that he had borrowed the pickup truck from a friend. That led to further investigation revealing that the truck had allegedly been taken without permission from a Glenwood Springs business.
Later pressed on the matter, Escobar Rosales allegedly admitted he had stolen the truck the night of Dec. 24, 2020, when he found it unlocked and the keys inside, according to court documents.
Escobar Rosales also allegedly admitted to using methamphetamine the morning of the crash, and that he had sold tools and ladders that were in the truck for drug money.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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