Driver legally drunk in fatal crash
EAGLE — When Anthony Eugene Chase drove his 60,000-pound concrete pumping truck into Sergio Ordonez-Morales’ path, Morales had 1.7 seconds left to be conscious in this world.
Chase was driving under the influence of alcohol and had prescription medications in his system when he caused the crash that killed Morales.
Chase, 47, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide Monday, a Class 3 felony, and asked to be sent straight to jail.
“I’m guilty and grief stricken. I want to turn myself in today and start doing my time,” Chase tearfully told District Court Judge Russell Granger.
With that, Judge Granger remanded him to the Eagle County jail. Chase will be formally sentenced May 2, at 10 a.m. He faces at least four years in prison, and five years’ parole after that.
“Our hearts go out to the Ordonez-Morales family as they continue to mourn the loss of our neighbor,” said Bruce Brown, 5th Judicial District attorney. “Impaired driving crashes are tragic because they are preventable. Drivers who drink or abuse drugs leave families, often their own, to deal with the heartbreaking consequences of their actions.”
About 5:21 p.m. July 23, Chase was driving a 1991 Mack concrete pump truck westbound on Highway 6, between Wolcott and Eagle, according to the Colorado State Patrol.
Witnesses said the truck was being driven erratically, including weaving and crossing over the double yellow line, Assistant District Attorney Joe Kirwan said during Monday’s hearing.
Chase drove the truck over a double yellow line, completely into the eastbound lane and into the path of Sergio Armando Ordonez-Morales, 29, who was headed east.
Ordonez-Morales had 1.7 seconds to react, Kirwan said, not enough time for him to get out of Chase’s way.
The collision forced Ordonez-Morales’ 1993 Chevy van backward, collapsed the driver’s cab and snapped the seatbelt.
Morales was rushed by ambulance to the Vail Valley Medical Center with an aortic rupture, ruptured bladder, broken ribs and other injuries. He died without regaining consciousness.
Chase was also transported to the hospital to be treated for serious injuries.
At the hospital, medical technicians drew a sample of Chase’s blood, and found he had a 0.08 blood alcohol level — the legal limit for driving under the influence — as well as three types of prescription medications — SOMA/Carisoprodol; Meprobamate, an opiate; and Alprazolam (Xanex).
Chase was arrested and charged with unlawful use of a controlled substance, reckless driving, driving under the influence, tampering with physical evidence, and vehicular homicide.
Both drivers were alone in their vehicles at the time of the accident.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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