Officials: Unclear if driver came to complete stop at Highway 82
An NBA agent killed Sunday, Feb. 25, in a car crash on Highway 82 appears to have stopped at a stop sign before proceeding into the intersection in front of a bus, a Colorado State Patrol spokesman said Monday.
A preliminary report on the accident indicates that Dan Fegan, 56, was at the stop sign at Smith Way and Highway 82 and proceeded into the intersection from that point, Trooper Josh Lewis said. It is not clear if Fegan came to a full and complete stop at the stop sign, he said.
However, Dan Blankenship, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority chief executive officer, said Monday that video from the bus appears to show the 2018 Kia SUV that Fegan was driving fail to stop at the stop sign.
“In this case it appears the vehicle went through the stop sign,” Blankenship said. “It appeared that he just continued through the intersection. It looks like (the SUV) was moving.”
The 50-year-old bus driver had about two seconds to react, Blankenship said.
“The move (by the SUV) was totally unexpected, and (the bus driver) had very little time to react once it happened,” he said.
The RFTA bus was traveling 52 mph when it struck the driver’s side of Fegan’s SUV, causing the vehicle to roll through a guardrail, Lewis said.
Fegan’s 5-year-old son, who was in the backseat, and a 29-year-old nanny in the front passenger seat were injured in the crash. The woman, who is from California, has “life-threatening injuries” while the boy has “serious injuries,” Lewis said Monday.
He did not release the details of their injuries. Officials said Sunday both were flown to a hospital in Denver after the crash. The conditions and locations of the boy and woman were not available Monday.
Drugs and alcohol were not a factor in the crash, Lewis said.
The bus driver, from Parachute, was not injured and will not be cited based on CSP’s accident investigation, Lewis said. A male passenger on the bus sustained minor injuries, he said. The driver worked as a seasonal winter driver from 2012 to April 2016, when he was promoted to full-time operator, Blankenship said.
Fegan was attempting to cross both lanes of traffic and not merge onto the downvalley lanes, Lewis said. That would have meant he was likely attempting to cross the median to turn left onto the upvalley traffic lanes toward Aspen.
Will Hollister, a Snowmass Village resident, said he was driving a Little Nell Hotel shuttle to the Eagle Airport on Sunday morning when he arrived at the accident scene minutes after it occurred and before emergency personnel arrived. He said he saw the nanny lying on the ground outside the SUV. She was injured and unconscious but was breathing, Hollister said.
The 5-year-old boy was being comforted by an unidentified man at the scene, he said.
“Some guy was holding the child,” Hollister said. “It looked like he was in shock.”
Hollister, a fly-fishing guide in the summer, said he had fished with Fegan a few times, but did not recognize him when he looked at the driver, who was still inside the SUV.
“It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Hollister said it appeared Fegan, who owned a house in Woody Creek, and his son were going skiing because of how they were dressed. Fegan often parked at the Little Nell and skied Aspen Mountain, he said.
“I am just heartbroken for the child and the nanny,” Hollister said.
Blankenship echoed those thoughts.
“I don’t think we can say enough how sad we are this occurred,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of those in the vehicle.”
He said the driver was “emotionally distraught” over the accident and loss of life.
“He’s taking it hard,” Blankenship said.
Counselors will be made available to the driver and any other RFTA employee who might need them, he said.
The intersection of Smith Way and Highway 82 in Woody Creek, where the accident occurred, is known to be treacherous, said Pitkin County Undersheriff Ron Ryan.
“I think it has always been one of the most dangerous intersections on Highway 82 in Pitkin County,” Ryan said.
For drivers who don’t know Smith Way, it can be difficult to tell they are approaching a major highway, he said. The road rises up to the highway from Woody Creek below.
“It’s hard to know the highway is there,” Ryan said. “All of a sudden you’re at the highway.”
Facing traffic woes and oncoming growth, officials are looking at road improvements.