Shuttle driver faces crash charges |

Shuttle driver faces crash charges

Steve Lynn
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GEORGETOWN ” An arrest warrant has been issued for the driver of an Edwards-based ski shuttle in which eight passengers were injured when it crashed on Interstate 70 March 25, the Colorado State Patrol said Tuesday.

Former Colorado Mountain Express driver Sebastian Lopez, 28, is wanted on suspicion of several counts of reckless endangerment and vehicular assault, said Trooper Gilbert Mares, spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol.

But Lopez may never go to trial because he returned to Spain this spring when his work visa expired and he’s unlikely to be extradited, authorities said.

If Lopez enters the United States again, he will be arrested, but police would “probably not” extradite Lopez, Mares said.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert did not know whether Lopez could be extradited. He said he would have to discuss that with the Colorado attorney general’s office, he said.

It was unclear Tuesday why the State Patrol did not arrest Lopez before he left for Spain.

And even though Lopez has left the country, the district attorney’s office is confident in its case against Lopez, Hurlbert said.

“There are cases that are 20 years old that are successfully prosecuted,” Hurlbert wrote in an e-mail. “I see no problem in prosecuting this case no matter when we catch the defendant.”

The CME van, which was traveling to Denver from Vail, crashed into a snowplow that had parked near Georgetown to alert motorists that I-70 was closed.

All of the passengers have left the hospital except for James Griggs, who was serious Tuesday, said Bev Lilly, spokeswoman for St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver.

Two passengers injured in the crash have filed a lawsuit against the Edwards-based company and Lopez, said attorney Russell Hatten.

Hatten’s clients, Jason Laforte and Thomas Gruber, have filed a lawsuit contending negligence by Lopez and East West Resort Transportation LLC, Colorado Mountain Express’s parent company, Hatten said.

The criminal case has not yet been filed with the district attorney’s office, Hurlbert said.

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