Nighttime bike crash in Edwards sends two to hospital

EDWARDS — A nighttime bicycle collision sent two local men to a Denver hospital by helicopter.

Sheriff’s investigators say Lucas Charles Southworth, 29, of Avon, was intoxicated when he caused a horrific collision on the bike path in Edwards in the dark of night on July 5.

Investigators say Southworth fled the scene and left the victim injured and bleeding on the bike path. It was more than an hour before someone found the victim and called 911.

So far, authorities have not released the victim’s name, but they did confirm that he’s a 24-year-old local man.

A local resident spotted the victim at 11:02 p.m. July 5 and called 911.

After attending to the victim and sending him by ambulance to the Vail Valley Medical Center, sheriff’s deputies scoured the area searching for Southworth. They located him after searching about a half hour.

During the time between the crash and the time deputies found Southworth, he was reportedly wandering around the Reserve townhome complex in Edwards, smearing blood “all over” the outside of one of the buildings, according to residents.

Deputies said he walked into at least one apartment, interrupting a father and daughter who were watching television at the time.

WHAT AUTHORITIES SAY HAPPENED

Senior Deputy Megan Richards was working an overtime shift over the Fourth of July weekend, part of increased holiday traffic enforcement.

Richards got the call and was met by other deputies and firefighters. They weren’t sure who they were looking for, but they figured he’d be easy enough to spot because he was likely “significantly injured,” the report said.

The deputies were on the scene just a few minutes when a woman living in the Reserve townhomes called 911 to report that a bloody and badly injured male was outside her residence and that he had smeared blood all over the outside of the building.

Sgt. John Chiodo, of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, found Southworth about three minutes later, bloodied and hiding in the weeds. He had significant injuries to his face and blood coming from his mouth and nose. His hands, shirt and pants were bloody and ripped.

The blood on his clothing turned out not to be his, but was transferred there from the victim, the incident report said.

Southworth attempted to walk away from Chiodo and Richards, but he was unsteady on his feet. He kept saying he wanted to go home. They explained that because of his injuries and the investigation, he was not free to leave.

It was difficult to tell where all the blood was coming from, because it had begun to coagulate and dry, Richards said.

Even though he was badly injured, Southworth again tried to leave and had to be directed to sit down and stay put, the police report said.

Richards asked him what had happened but said he was difficult to understand because he was slurring his words, due at least in part to a possibly broken jaw and missing and loose teeth.

As Southworth became more agitated with Richards’ questioning, he began breathing heavily, consistent with someone who has had that sort of trauma, Richards said.

However, she said she could smell alcohol with each breath he took. He admitted to Richards that he’d drunk a bottle of whiskey and a beer, and had finished drinking at a friend’s house and was on his way home. He later admitted to another officer to drinking 10 beers and a bottle of whiskey.

In his backpack, deputies found two cans of beer and two broken beer bottles. The backpack was dripping wet and smelled of alcohol, Richards said.

He told Richards he could not remember where he left his bicycle after the collision.

Southworth was in obvious pain, but when firefighters and medics arrived he refused to cooperate with their assessments and even tried to rip off the neck brace they put on him and flee the scene, the police report said.

During further questioning at the hospital, Richards told him she believed he caused the accident, according to the report.

“So I was on my bike?” Southworth asked.

Richards nodded “yes.”

“So I’m golden,” Southworth said.

DUI CHARGES APPLY TO BIKERS

But he wasn’t. In Colorado, you can still be charged with DUI while operating a bicycle, Richards told him.

During their search, deputies found Southworth’s bicycle, which he had abandoned.

After he was stabilized at Vail Valley Medical Center, Southworth was flown to a hospital in Denver.

Southworth’s charges include DUI, failing to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in serious injury or death and careless driving causing bodily injury or death.

The condition of the victim and Southworth were unknown at press time.

Southworth graduated the University of Connecticut with a degree in environmental biology. He started working at a Beaver Creek hotel in 2011.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Jul 22, 2014 07:55PM Published Jul 22, 2014 02:41PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.