Teen charged in fatal crash | AspenTimes.com
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Teen charged in fatal crash

Eben Harrell

Editor’s note: The Aspen Times does not typically name juvenile defendants in print. However, the name of this teen is already public knowledge, having appeared in both Aspen newspapers multiple times since the June 24 accident.The district attorney’s office announced yesterday it has charged Aspen teenager Dustin Hite with vehicular homicide for the June 24 crash that killed his friend and classmate, 17-year-old Alex Terral.Following the charge, Hite’s attorney said the Hite family “wishes to express its deepest sympathy over this tragedy.”The vehicular homicide charge follows the recommendation of a month-long investigation by the Colorado State Patrol. The investigation found Hite to be driving recklessly when the crash occurred. While vehicular homicide carries a presumptive sentence of two to six years for adults, Hite faces a maximum of two years in juvenile prison if convicted, according to the district attorney’s office.Hite, 17, lost control of his 1991 Mercedes a mile east of Aspen on Highway 82. Terral, who was riding in the front seat, was ejected when the car rolled. He was flown to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction and died four days later. Hite and another passenger, Max Bardell, were not seriously injured. Hite is represented by Aspen attorney Katharine Sullivan, of Goldberg, Sullivan and Gerson. Yesterday afternoon Sullivan released a statement on behalf of the Hite family.”The family wants to express again their continuing deepest sympathy over this tragedy. The Aspen community has been devastated by this event,” the statement read.Sullivan went on to question the actions of the Glenwood Springs district attorney’s office, saying “I do not know what a charging deputy in Glenwood Springs is doing … at present I have seen nothing.”Sullivan refused to elaborate further.Neither state patrol nor district attorney Mac Myers would comment on rumors that Hite was racing or passing on the right when his car spun off the road, although state patrol has confirmed Hite was speeding. Asked whether the other passengers may have encouraged reckless driving and whether this could affect the case, Myers said a vehicular homicide charge does not consider passenger conduct.”In a case like this, we focus on the conduct of the individual charged,” Myers said.Vehicular homicide is determined to occur when “a person drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and such conduct is the proximate cause of the death of another person,” according to Colorado law. The charge is most often brought in drunk-driving cases, although state patrol reported alcohol was not a factor in this case.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com


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