Woman accused in fatal Colorado Highway 9 crash pleads not guilty; trial date set for June
Lindsey Leigh Ward, 31, the woman who allegedly caused a fatal crash on Colorado Highway 9 while driving drunk last summer, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
At an arraignment hearing Wednesday morning in district court at the Summit County Justice Center, Ward entered pleas of not guilty on four charges of vehicular homicide stemming from a crash in August that killed Colorado couple Benjamin Mitton, 41, and Nichole Gough, 43.
At about 5:25 p.m. Aug. 30, Colorado State Patrol troopers and Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report of a double rollover near mile marker 84 on Highway 9, just north of Blue River, according to police records. The initial call noted that there were potential ejections from one of the vehicles, along with possible fatalities.
Medical personnel confirmed that two individuals, later identified as Mitton and Gough, were pronounced dead at the scene. Law enforcement officers also reported seeing the couple’s black jeep sitting on its passenger side door. The driver of the other vehicle, later identified as Ward, was loaded into an ambulance for treatment.
On scene, officers questioned multiple witnesses, who alleged seeing Ward driving southbound along the highway, before losing control of her Subaru and hitting the other car in the northbound lane. Ward’s car continued a little farther south down the road before dropping down a steep embankment, according to the report.
Ward agreed to participate in voluntary roadside maneuvers as part of a standardized field sobriety test, but she was only able to complete a horizontal gaze nystagmus — a test to look for involuntary jerking of the eyes caused by substance impairment — before officers ended the test, noting that Ward was extremely emotional, unsteady on her feet and struggling to follow instructions.
Ward was taken for treatment to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, where she underwent blood draws and a preliminary breath test. Soon after, medical personnel at the hospital advised law enforcement that Ward was cleared for discharge, and she was booked at the Summit County Detention Facility on charges of vehicular homicide, driving under the influence and failure to drive in a designated lane. She posted bond in the amount of $15,000 and was released the next week.
In September, the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office formally charged Ward with two counts of vehicular homicide DUI, a Class 3 felony, and two counts of vehicular homicide reckless driving, a Class 4 felony. If convicted on all charges, Ward faces up to 24 years in prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
At the hearing Wednesday, Ward pleaded not guilty to all charges, setting the stage for the case to go to trial. Chief Judge Mark Thompson set the dates for a weeklong trial from June 22-26. Ward is next scheduled to appear in court for a motions hearing April 28.