Briggs gets a year in jail over traffic fatality
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – John H. Briggs was sentenced to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000 on Thursday, over the traffic death last year of Claudia Tena de Ramirez, 24, of Glenwood Springs.
Briggs, 59, of Del Norte, was driving a logging truck south on Highway 82 on Aug. 16, 2011, when he ran a red light at the Buffalo Valley and County Road 154 intersection.
Briggs’ truck crashed into the driver’s side of a Jeep driven by de Ramirez, who was turning left onto the highway from County Road 154. De Ramirez died at the scene of the accident.
Briggs, who was not wearing a seat belt, was not injured in the crash.
A Colorado State Patrol trooper reported that Briggs’ truck pushed the Jeep across both lanes of oncoming traffic and onto the shoulder of the northbound lanes before coming to a stop.
De Ramirez was wearing a seat belt, according to the state patrol.
Alcohol, drugs and speeding were ruled out as contributing factors in the crash, the State Patrol reported.
District Attorney Martin Beeson decided the case against Briggs could not support a charge of vehicular homicide, leading to a plea bargain in which Briggs pleaded guilty to one count of careless driving resulting in death, a misdemeanor.
Additional charges, including driving with an expired license plate, violating commercial vehicle safety rules and running a red light, were dropped as part of the deal.
The conviction could result in Briggs losing his commercial truck driving permit, according to Chief Deputy DA Jim Leuthauser.
According to the sentencing order signed by Garfield County Court Judge Paul Metzger, a question of restitution payment is on hold for three months.
Briggs, who has been free on bond while the case made its way through the courts, started his sentence at the Garfield County Jail on Thursday afternoon.
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon closed around 9 p.m. Thursday for a flash flood warning.