Tinner aims to create scholarship in name of crash victim | AspenTimes.com

Tinner aims to create scholarship in name of crash victim

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times

Expectations for Christine Tinner in her public-service sentence crystallized during a 70-minute hearing Friday in Pitkin County Court.

In April, Tinner, who fell asleep while driving across the center line on Highway 133 on Aug. 23, killing a 21-year-old college student, was sentenced to five years of unsupervised probation and 360 hours of community service, which must be completed within three years.

At a hearing Wednesday, Tinner and her attorney Dan Shipp told Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely that the public-service sentence lacked clarity. On Friday, details of the expectations became clearer.

Tinner proposed creating an online automobile-safety course. Students would learn how to create apps featuring speed-limit alerts, seat-belt alerts, talking driving companions and stay-awake alerts, among others.

Money generated from the apps would go into a scholarship fund for women in undergraduate engineering. The scholarship would be under the name of Meleyna Kistner, the promising mechanical engineering student at an Indiana university who died when she was driving through Pitkin County south of Carbondale at around 9 p.m. Aug. 23 with her boyfriend, Daniel Thul, 22, when the accident occurred. As proposed, the scholarship would be administered by the National Center for Women in Technology.

Tinner said she would work on the project for four hours a week for 52 weeks. She also vowed to create a YouTube video for Colorado police officers regarding their testing of motorists involved in highway accidents for drugs and alcohol.

Ever since the August crash, relatives of Kistner expressed frustration and anger that the Colorado State Patrol did not test Tinner for substances after the accident. The patrol said it did not have probable cause.

Tinner has been trying to clear her name in that regard, and hospital lab tests showed she didn’t have alcohol in her system.

“Unless (police officers) don’t have probable cause, they can’t force you to take a test,” Shipp said. “But they can ask you to.”

The video would emphasize having officers ask motorists to voluntarily take tests to lift any cloud of suspicion that they were under the influence.

In February, Tinner pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of careless driving causing death and careless driving causing injury.

The court will review Tinner’s progress at a hearing set for Aug. 17.