Man pleads guilty in vehicular assault case

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— A man accused of driving while intoxicated, rolling his vehicle and injuring two female passengers pleaded guilty Friday in Routt County District Court to one count of vehicular assault and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Eric Sullivan, 31, of Steam--boat Springs, accepted the plea offer special prosecutor Chief District Attorney Scott Turner made in the case, which dismissed one count of vehicular assault, a Class 4 felony, in exchange for a guilty plea to the other count and the DUI charge, a traffic misdemeanor. Sullivan also must pay an undetermined amount of restitution to the victims.

Turner, of Glenwood Springs, was appointed special prosecutor in the case because Sullivan's father is County Manager Tom Sullivan.

According to Colorado State Patrol records, Eric Sullivan was driving a Jeep Wrangler on Buffalo Pass Road on June 15 when he lost control and rolled it, ejecting passengers Tohna Nadu, 29, and Cheryl Gartz, 20, both of Steamboat Springs. Gartz was flown to Denver Health Medical Center, where she remained for two weeks in critical condition. Nadu was treated and released.

Sullivan's attorney, Cheryl Hardy-Moore, told District Judge Michael O'Hara that though Sullivan agreed to plead guilty to the charges, the "complicated issue" of restitution had not been settled.

Hardy-Moore told O'Hara that lawsuits between Sullivan and Gartz and Nadu are being settled and that she did not know how much Sullivan would be required to pay each woman.

Hardy-Moore said Gartz was seeking about $158,000 for her injuries. Hardy-Moore said she did not expect Nadu's medical expenses to be more than $5,100. Sullivan's insurance has tentatively agreed to pay Gartz $50,000, which Hardy-Moore said she hoped would reduce the amount of restitution Sullivan would be required to pay Gartz to about $58,000.

Nadu has not settled her civil case, Hardy-Moore added.

Sullivan faces between two and six years in prison. In addition, he could pay a fine of as much as $500,000 and be ordered to serve a mandatory three years of parole.

Hardy-Moore asked O'Hara whether he would grant Sullivan permission to leave the state for Kansas to visit his 11-year-old daughter for Christmas. O'Hara said he would give Sullivan oral permission to leave the state as long as he signed the appropriate paperwork to do so and specified the dates he would be gone.

Sullivan's sentencing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 27.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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