Guilty plea to vehicular homicide gets local man seven years
EAGLE — By all accounts, Anthony Chase is a delightful guy.
Still, on the afternoon of July 23, 2015, Chase was legally drunk when he drove a 58,000 concrete pumper truck across the U.S. Highway 6 centerline near Wolcott, and head-on into Sergio Armando Ordonez Morales’ minivan.
“Who will survive? The vehicle with the most lug nuts,” said Trooper Jeremy Tice with the Colorado State Patrol’s vehicular crimes unit. “Whoever was on the wrong end of this head-on collision had no chance of surviving.”
Chase, 47, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in March and asked to be sent straight to jail.
Chase was sentenced to seven years in state prison on Monday morning, the date of his 22nd wedding anniversary.
“I am so guilty, and I am so ashamed. I have taken a loving son, husband and father from his family. He did not deserve to die,” Chase said tearfully, speaking to District Court Judge Russell Granger. “How could I have fallen so far? I have gone from a proud businessman to a burden.”
He vowed to be a model citizen and warn others about the tragedy that follows drinking and driving. He already spoke to a group of young people about the dangers of drinking and driving before local high schools.
“I’m going to be a model citizen and tell anyone who will listen what happens when you mix these,” Chase said.
When Chase’s truck crossed the center line, Morales had 1.7 seconds to react, not enough time for him to get out of the way, Tice said.
He was on his way home to a mobile home he and his wife had just bought in Edwards, where they lived with their son, now 3 years old.
The collision forced Morales’ 1993 Chevy minivan backward, collapsed the drivers 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.
Medical technicians drew a sample of Chase’s blood, and found he had a .08 blood alcohol level — the legal limit for driving under the influence — as well as traces of an opiate and Xanax.
Physics always wins, Tice said. Given the weight of the pump truck, it had 10 times the momentum of the minivan that Morales was driving.
“It was unrecognizable,” Tice said.
One side of Granger’s courtroom was packed with Chase’s family, the other side with Morales’ family.
“Both sides are in tears,” Granger said.
When Granger finished, Chase turned and faced his family and waved goodbye.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.