Edwards hit-and-run: Anatomy of an accident
• July, 3, 1:40 p.m.
Martin Erzinger is traveling eastbound on U.S. Highway 6 through Edwards. Near the Miller Ranch Road intersection, the 2010 black Mercedes sedan he was driving struck Dr. Steven Milo, who was riding his bicycle along the shoulder, also eastbound. After impact, Milo traveled an undetermined distance before landing on the line between the shoulder and the highway. His bicycle bounced another 43.2 feet and landed on the highway centerline between the eastbound and westbound lanes. Also after impact, Erzinger’s car continued off road for 265.4 feet, where he collided with a concrete storm culvert at what witnesses say was “a high rate of speed.” After hitting the culvert, he continued off road another 195.5 feet, when Erzinger re-entered the roadway and continued eastbound.
Colorado State Trooper John Lent found a chrome exhaust tip and plastic from the car’s inner wheel well near the culvert.
A witness on the scene pulled a U-turn and stopped his vehicle near Milo to stop traffic. He called 911.
A second witness was riding his bike about 100 feet ahead of Milo, along the highway, when he heard a loud crash. He saw Erzinger’s Mercedes off the road, bouncing up and down as it drove through the ditch. He dropped his bike and ran back to Milo.
From the point of the collision, Erzinger drove 3.3 miles into Avon, north onto West Beaver Creek Boulevard, through Avon’s roundabouts, under Interstate 70 and into the Pizza Hut parking lot, where he was approached by Avon police officer Yvonne Ramirez. Erzinger told Ramirez that he had blacked out and didn’t remember the collision. Ramirez said Erzinger seemed confused, so she called for an ambulance to transport him to the Vail Valley Medical Center.
Lent arrived at the Pizza Hut and observed front, rear, driver’s side and undercarriage damage to Erzinger’s car, and that the pieces he picked up at the scene had come from the Mercedes.
In the hospital, Erzinger, a Greenwood Village resident, told Lent he was driving to his second home in Arrowhead when he accidentally drove off the road. He told Lent he remembered hitting the storm culvert and driving through tall grass, but that he did not remember hitting a bicyclist.
Erzinger said he drove past Arrowhead because he was having trouble with his car’s steering controls, and he was looking for a service station to have it looked at.
Dr. Gordon Hardenbergh attended to both Milo and Erzinger.
Milo suffered serious injuries that included an intracranial hemorrhage, a fractured rib and multiple facial abrasions and lacerations.
Erzinger was examined and released. Hardenbergh said Erzinger was not under the influence of any intoxicating substances.
One hour after the collision, Erzinger was medically cleared. Lent arrested him at 2:30 p.m. on one felony count – failing to remain at the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury – and two misdemeanors – failing to notify the police of an accident and careless driving causing bodily injury.
Erzinger was booked into the Eagle County jail. He was released on $2,000 bond.
About a week after the collision, Erzinger’s family physician diagnosed him with sleep apnea, which might have caused him to black out at the wheel July 3. An expert in the field later confirmed that diagnosis.
An expert hired by Erzinger’s attorneys to reconstruct the accident determined that since Erzinger was driving a hardtop sedan, Erzinger could not have seen Milo roll over the roof and onto the road.
• Aug. 20: Milo’s attorney Harold Haddon says that during a telephone conference with Assistant District Attorney Mark Brostrom, he was informed that Erzinger would be charged with a felony, and that the case would be bound over to District Court. Haddon said Brostrom told Erzinger’s attorney, Richard Tegtmeier, the same thing later that day.
• Sept. 7: Eagle County Court Judge Katharine Sullivan is informed that a plea agreement has been reached to charge Erzinger with the two misdemeanors, but not the felony.
• Oct. 14 The felony charge was re-filed and the case was bound over to District Court for arraignment Nov. 4.
• Nov. 2: Hurlbert faxes a late afternoon letter to Haddon and Milo saying that despite “showing a callous disregard in leaving the scene of an accident,” Hurlbert was “prepared to offer (Erzinger) a plea disposition,” to the two misdemeanor traffic offenses.
• Nov. 4: Milo requested that the court reject the plea agreement.
• Nov. 8: In a letter to the Vail Daily, Hurlbert writes, “I made the plea offer months ago.”
• Today: A 2 p.m. hearing is scheduled before District Court Judge Fred Gannett. Milo is expected to testify.
Colorado State Patrol
Documents filed with the courts for both Martin Erzinger (through attorney Richard Tegtmeier) and Dr. Steven Milo (through attorney Harold Haddon).
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