More details, including criminal charges, are now coming out about the tragic single-car accident that killed a Roaring Fork High School student and injured 5 other teens near Carbondale Sunday night. 19-year-old Basalt resident Gerardo Banda, who’d been driving, is now in the Garfield County Jail on $75,000 cash bond, charged with the vehicular homicide of 17-year-old Ayleen Ruiz Alvarado. She died that evening when the ‘99 Audi Banda was driving tried, according to the state patrol, to pass another car on Garfield County Road 108, and went off that road. CSP says it then rolled some 200 feet down an embankment into a ravine, coming to rest upside down in a creek. State troopers and the Carbondale & Rural firefighters who responded say it appears none of the young people in the car had been wearing seat belts. The accident happened a little after 9:30 Sunday. Banda and others were thrown from the wreckage, all the survivors hospitalized with minor to serious injuries at Valley View in Glenwood Springs. His breath alcohol content, not admissible in court, was .115 according to the CSP, well above the .08 threshold for being too drunk to drive. And the Post Independent reports Banda told a state trooper he’d only consumed a single beer. Along with the vehicular homicide charge, Banda faces 2 counts felony vehicular assault, DUI, driving under restraint (like a suspended license), and underage alcohol possession. If convicted on all counts and sentenced to the maximum, Banda could go to prison for as long as 32 years, and be required to pay fines of as much as 3 quarters of a million dollars. The Roaring Fork school district says everyone there is saddened by the tragic loss of Ayleen, and are focused now on supporting students, staff, & family members who’ve been impacted. Law enforcers urge young people not to put themselves in dangerous situations just because it’s that graduation time of year. They also point out that seat belts will almost always save your life. Getting ejected from a crashed vehicle is likely to do the opposite.Late Tuesday afternoon and early in the evening, State Highway 13 north of Rifle was closed… that due to a double fatal crash near mile marker 15. The Garfield County Sheriff’s office says a pickup and a tankeer truck collided head-on. Their initial reports indicate 2 people were killed in the wreck, that happened a little after 4:00 Tuesday afternoon. The Sheriff’s Office, state patrol, and Colorado River Fire Rescue all responded to that incident. That’s all the info that was available late Tuesday.
They got the sheer number of names on paper– now, are enough of those valid, in order to call a special election? The Aspen City Clerk’s office will count the petition signatures and let everyone know. Those who canvassed the city with petitions in hand over the weekend and through most of Monday are opposed to the new 28,000 square foot municipal office building, set to go up on Rio Grande Place. Those people say they totalled about 760 signatures, and they’d needed at least 640. City Attorney Jim True has said in recent days he’s not sure the ordinance Council passed last month to authorize the new offices is something covered under the state’s referendum law. If it is, and more than 640 of those signatures are valid, Aspen voters could be deciding soon whether to spend 36 to 39 million dollars on the building. The process to make way for it began months ago, with many city workers moving to remote offices in places like Basalt, as their present facilities are remodeled and added onto. The petition effort has been largely led by activist and frequent council meeting commenter Toni Kronberg, who doesn’t live in Aspen, but downvalley in Snowmass Canyon.
The state Passenger Tramway Safety Board, the regulatory body governing ski lifts at all resorts, says it was a simple malfunction last December that caused a Ski Granby Ranch chair in Grand County to throw a woman 25 feet to her death. 40-year-old Kelly Huber of San Antonio died of multiple injuries, and her 9 & 12 year old daughters, who fell with her, were injured but survived. The board’s final report that came out last week says changes in the lift control system, coupled with the operator’s apparent rapid speed changes, seem to have caused instability in the cable, making the lift lurch and throwing Huber and her children from the chair they’d been in. Ski Granby Ranch says the drive was new, installed only about a month before the December 29th tragedy. It adds in a statement that an independent contractor had worked on that lift prior to last season beginning.
You just know that some truckers who aren’t familiar with Independence Pass are going to see on their GPS systems that the pass would make a good “alternate route” once the Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood Springs closes for the last time in August. Pitkin County authorities know that too, because it’s happened every time Glenwood Canyon’s closed in recent years. The reality is, the Pass can’t handle any vehicle more than 35 feet long. There are signs saying so. Most big rigs are 53 feet. So CDOT and Pitco officials are working together to prevent them from trying the pass, before they get part of the way up and then get into a bind where they can’t turn around. The county and the state transportation department say, however, their new system of detection of big rigs, plus flashing warning signs and a turnaround space, isn’t likely to be ready before the August 14th closure of the existing bridge, and start of the big detour through Glenwood Springs that’ll go on at least 95 days, until about Thanksgiving. The state says there may be a couple weeks of big trucks trying the pass, until the system’s ready in late August or early September. And that’s all from the Aspen side of the pass. Lake County is reportedly declining to do anything on the Twin Lakes side to prevent truckers from attempting the climb.