Passenger dies in high-speed crash |

Passenger dies in high-speed crash

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. ” A 21-year-old female passenger died Saturday morning in a suspected drunken-driving accident in West Glenwood Springs.

Glenwood Springs police charged the driver, Patricio Mellin-Tapia, 28, with DUI, vehicular homicide, driving with a revoked license, reckless driving and failure to provide immediate proof of insurance. Mellin-Tapia was initially transported to Valley View Hospital with plans to be moved to the Garfield County Jail when he was healthy enough.

“Essentially what we have from our initial investigation is that the vehicle was traveling east on Highway 6 Saturday morning just before 7 a.m. at an estimated speed of 86 miles per hour,” Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said.

The speed limit in the area is 40 mph.

Maria Barrigan-Silva died in the accident. She had just turned 21 the previous weekend, according to Debbie Crabb, her manager at Alamo car rental at the Aspen airport. She had worked for Alamo for about 45 days and also worked at the airport’s gift shop, which her brother manages. Crabb said she was one of the best employees she ever had.

“Aspen is a small airport. Everybody knows everybody,” Crabb said.

The white 2000 Nissan Maxima began to lose control and skidded to the left across the westbound lane. It crashed into a cement retaining wall in the corner of the Oasis restaurant’s parking lot. The initial impact was on the front right corner, with a secondary impact on the right rear segment of the vehicle.

“It rebounded off the wall and came to rest in the corner of the Oasis parking lot,” Wilson said.

There were some flames thought to be caused by a gas leak.

“Fortunately it didn’t burst into flames or anything,” Wilson said. “Bystanders rushed to the scene and pulled both people out of the vehicle.”

The small fire did damage a van parked near where the Nissan came to rest.

Gloria Serrano, an employee of Dos Hombres restaurant next door to the Oasis, came to work after the accident and said she found the car battery and glass from the windshield at least 50 feet away from the car. The car was mangled enough, she said, that workers were having a difficult time getting it loaded onto a tow truck.

“You couldn’t even tell what kind of car it was,” Serrano said.

Wilson said officers noted signs of alcohol intoxication on Mellin-Tapia, and that the vehicular homicide statute mandates multiple blood draws for alcohol testing. He wouldn’t release Mellin-Tapia’s blood-alcohol content.

Crabb said she had just rented a car for Barrigan-Silva’s family to travel to Washington state where she was from. She said they planned to see her mother.

“They’re just really a good, hard-working bunch of folks,” she said.

Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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