Driver in midnight crash admits vehicular homicide
EAGLE — Emmanuel Villeda admitted he was drunk and driving 140 mph when he flipped the car he was driving, killing one man and injuring three others.
After months of mental competency evaluations, state psychologists found that Villeda was competent to stand trial on vehicular homicide charges. Instead of going through with a trial, Villeda pleaded guilty to three felonies and a misdemeanor in a Monday morning hearing. He’s scheduled to be sentenced May 18 at 10 a.m.
Prosecutors waited to charge Villeda, 25, until he recovered from the June 9 crash, which occurred near the wastewater treatment plant on the western edge of Edwards.
Villeda and two friends spent the hours prior to the crash drinking beers and shots at a restaurant in Avon while waiting for another friend to join them after work. They left the restaurant just before midnight, with Villeda at the wheel of a silver Audi S4, according to police reports.
Around midnight, Villeda was driving at approximately 140 miles per hour when the car began skidding along Red Canyon Estates Road. Villeda blew through a stop sign and the vehicle hit an embankment. It was still traveling 90 mph when it went airborne, vaulted across Hillcrest Drive and landed on its wheels behind the water treatment plant, police said.
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The car flipped one and a half times before coming to a rest on its wheels.
Trapped all night
The men were trapped in the car all night. A man driving home from work the next morning discovered the wreckage at 8 a.m., when he noticed debris. He followed the debris trail, found the car with the four men still inside and dialed 911.
Eagle County Paramedics, Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies, Avon Police and Colorado State Patrol officers all rushed to the scene. Villeda, who was partially free from the wreckage, was first to receive medical attention. Rescue workers freed the other three men still trapped inside. Arthur and Travis Valdez suffered serious injuries, including spinal cord injuries, a broken skull and severe spleen injuries. They survived and were flown to Denver Health. Villeda was later treated at Denver Health for a severe head injury.
The right rear passenger, 22-year-old Rafael Torres-Ortiz, was dead when emergency personnel arrived. Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said he died from multiple blunt force injuries. It was later determined by investigators that the front seat passengers had been wearing seat belts, while the rear passengers were not.
“Our sympathies go out to the family of Rafael Ortiz, who lost his life because of the thoughtless and reckless behavior of his friend. This horrible accident was totally avoidable, but now all four gentlemen’s lives are unalterably damaged,” said District Attorney Bruce Brown.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.