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Driving While Exhausted: Fatal Car Accident Near Colona, Colorado

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On the Colorado Accident Law Blog, we talk about about distracted driving and driving under the influence (DUI) a lot. One thing we haven’t yet touched on is driving while extremely tired, which in many ways is similar to driving drunk — reaction time is slowed, attention can drift, and passing out behind the wheel is a possibility.

Last Tuesday afternoon, driving while too tired was likely the cause of a fatal car accident south of Colona, Colorado. Omar Martinez-Torres, 16, was behind the wheel. His mother, Mae Torres-Martinez, was in the passenger seat.

Beverly Corbell of TellurideWatch.com gives us the details:

According to Colorado State Patrol, the accident occurred at approximately 5 p.m. when the teenager first went off the right side of the road near mile marker 114 while traveling west on U.S. Highway 550, a few miles south of Colona, then came crisscrossed the highway several times and hit three delineator posts along the way before rolling off the road in a broadside skid, going sideways down an embankment and the rolled 1 ½ times, for a total distance of about 50 feet.

According to Corbell, Colorado State Patrol pronounced Mae dead at the scene, and Omar was taken to Montrose Memorial Hospital for surgery. Based on the description of the crash, as tragic as it was, it was fortunate no other vehicles were involved in the accident. Colorado State Patrol trooper Daren Reed described the crash as “pretty horrific.”

William Woody of The Daily Sentinel provides background information on the events leading up to the accident, as well as a summary of Omar’s charges:

The teen was working as a landscaper in Telluride. After leaving work, he and his mother stopped to buy furniture at a Ridgway yard sale, Reed said. Maria Martinez-Torres wanted to go back to Montrose to get a bigger vehicle and return for the items. The boy told his mother he was too tired to drive, but she needed his help in lifting the items, Reed said.

A summons for careless driving causing death, a misdemeanor, was issued to the teen. No additional charges have been filed, and calls to Montrose County District Attorney Myrl Serra were not returned Friday.

Image by Thairms, used under its Creative Commons license

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