Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs police officers kept busy Monday responding to nearly two dozen car accidents, but the workload - and the speed at which motorists traveled icy and snowpacked roads - slowed significantly by Tuesday.
Police Capt. Joel Rae said only three accidents were reported in Steamboat Springs on Tuesday, a welcome reprieve from Monday's 23 reported accidents.
"Compared to (Monday), it was much, much better," Rae said. "The roads on U.S. Highway 40 were pretty much cleared before noon. (Monday) was a bear until at least 2 or 3 p.m., when the roads started freezing and it got worse."
Each of the 23 accidents involved two vehicles, and there were no injuries.
One accident included an interesting twist.
At about 5:15 p.m. Monday, a 22-year-old Steamboat Springs man reportedly drove into the open tailgate of a Toyota Tacoma pickup in the 400 block of Anglers Drive. The man then left the scene of the accident.
The Toyota Tacoma belongs to Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal Mark MacHale, who, according to police, yelled for the driver, Derek Allan Kinowski, to stop after Kinowski began to drive away from the accident scene.
"He hit me and spun out trying to get away," MacHale said. "I couldn't get his license plate because of the snow, so I followed him."
MacHale followed Kinowski, who also was driving a Toyota Tacoma, to Third Street and Lincoln Avenue, where Kinowski made a sharp left off Lincoln Avenue, ran into a curb and stopped.
Rae said MacHale told Kinowski he was a police officer and would arrest him if he didn't hand over his car keys. Kinowski gave his keys to MacHale, Rae said.
When officers arrived, MacHale told them that he told Kinowski he was a police officer. MacHale also said it was a "bad decision," Rae said. Impersonating a law enforcement officer is a crime.
Kinowski was arrested on suspicion of driving under suspension, leaving the scene of an accident, failing to notify police of an accident, driving without Colorado vehicle registration and not having proof of insurance, and MacHale was issued a warning for impersonating a police officer.
MacHale said he was trying to get the young man to stop driving and he came up with the plan to pretend he was a police officer on the spot.
"I have a big, commanding voice; he was a scared kid," MacHale said. "I figured I'd try it. Sometimes you do things in the spur of the moment without thinking about it. My goal was to get him to stop, and he did."
Kinowski's bond was set at $1,500, and he is scheduled to appear in Routt County Court at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 16.
There was no such excitement Tuesday, when the only three accidents to which Steamboat officers responded were the result of motorists driving too fast for conditions, Rae said.
Routt County Sheriff's Office Lt. Bill Brandenburg said there were no reports of accidents in the county on Tuesday.
Brandenburg credited the lack of accidents to drivers being more cognizant of the slick road conditions.
"Apparently, people are driving slower," he said.