Feds bust former Vail man in Vermont
MORRISVILLE, Vt. – U.S. marshals caught up with a former Vail man in Vermont more than a decade and a half after he fled the area.
Bryant Haswell has been on the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office most wanted list after failing to comply with the terms of his probation in connection with a 1996 incident in which he was riding his bicycle drunk and slammed into Chris Meisel, causing a serious brain injury. Meisel was walking her two dogs on a Vail recreation path when Haswell hit her.
His blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit at the time of the accident, according to incident records.
“This person came out of nowhere in the dark and hit me,” Meisel said after the collision. “I never saw him.”
Passing motorists on Interstate 70 stopped to help Meisel, her dog, and Haswell, who was also injured.
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Meisel said she doesn’t remember the accident.
“I didn’t wake up for 48 hours,” Meisel said when Haswell was named to Eagle County’s most wanted list in 2006.
Meisel spent more than four months recovering from brain swelling. After a stay at Swedish Medical Center in Denver, she underwent five weeks of physical therapy at Craig Hospital, where she had to ensure her caretakers she could cook, buy groceries and provide correct change for the bus, Meisel said.
On her last day at the rehab center, Meisel overheard a man talking about how he was recovering from an accident in which he seriously hurt a woman.
It was Haswell.
“I said ‘Nice to see your face, Bryant’ and I left,” Meisel said.
Meisel lived in the valley for two decades. She left Vail for Chadron, Neb., where she opened a ladies clothing store and other businesses, and still lives. She is a cancer survivor.
Haswell was charged with second-degree assault, a Class 4 felony, and DUI in connection with the Sept. 20, 1996, incident.
He pleaded guilty to the felony and misdemeanor assault. He received a deferred judgment four year sentence on Nov. 24, 1997. He was ordered to pay restitution $33,535.15, plus additional amounts to be determined based on proof of Meisel’s expenses, according records from the District Attorney’s Office.
He was given a deferred sentence and could have stayed out of jail if he stayed out of trouble.
He left the area after failing to pay the full amount of restitution. Haswell broke probation again by driving drunk in Florida, according to records from the District Attorney’s Office.
Haswell went missing from the Vail area when the District Attorney’s Office filed several motions to revoke his deferred judgment and sentence, based on his failure to comply with most of the conditions of his probation and deferred sentence.
The District Attorney’s Office last filed a motion to revoke his deferred sentence on Nov. 23, 2001.
Haswell has been missing ever since.
The latest arrest
The case showed up in Vermont’s U.S. marshals office earlier August, forwarded from Colorado’s violent offender task force, said Bill Gerke, with the U.S. marshals office in Vermont.
The U.S. marshals worked on it for about a week, finally narrowing it down to Haswell’s girlfriend’s address in Morrisville, Vt.
They put the home under surveillance and when Haswell showed up they arrested him, Gerke said.
Morrisville is one town north of Vermont’s Stowe ski resort.
“He gravitated from one ski resort to another,” Gerke said.
The marshals turned him over to Vermont state authorities and deal with his extradition.
He was arrested Aug. 14. There was no problem with the arrest, Gerke said. Haswell admitted to his identity and to the fact that he had an outstanding arrest warrant, Gerke said.
Local prosecutors say they’ll extradite Haswell back to Colorado to face charges.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.