Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Steamboat Springs A Colorado State Patrol was cited Tuesday for her role in a traffic accident Saturday near Rabbit Ears Pass on U.S. Highway 40.
State Patrol Capt. Brett Williams said he made the decision to cite Trooper Melissa Remner for making an unsafe U-turn after reviewing the results of an accident investigation conducted by Sgt. Chad Dunlap.
"Public perception is that we try to cover these accidents up when it involves one of our own, but that isn't the case," Dunlap said. "There are procedures that we have to follow in investigating these accidents before we determine how to proceed."
"We hold everyone equally accountable, even when it's one of our own," Williams said.
Williams said the citation includes a $41.20 fine and three points on Remner's driver's license. As is the case with any citizen cited for a traffic violation, Remner has the option of fighting the ticket in court.
The accident occurred Saturday morning when Remner, who is based out of Craig, was making a U-turn on U.S. 40. While making the turn, she struck Steamboat Pilot & Today reporter Dave Shively as he attempted to pass her. Remner and Shively were driving east at the time of the accident, and the incident occurred in a passing zone with two lanes of traffic heading eastbound and one lane of traffic heading westbound.
Shively was not cited for the accident. No injuries were reported, and no other vehicles were involved. Shively's car suffered extensive damage.
The accident was a rare one for troopers who patrol Northwest Colorado, Williams said. Area troopers typically drive between 30,000 and 35,000 miles a year. In 2006, troopers in this region were involved in only five reported accidents. In only one of those incidents was the trooper found to be at fault, Williams said.
Often times if a trooper is not cited for an accident, he or she faces more severe internal reprimands, that Williams described as much worse than receiving a simple traffic ticket.
Although accidents involving troopers aren't common, they do reflect poorly on the agency, Dunlap said.
"Our whole point in being out there it to try to prevent accidents," he said. "It does look bad on our behalf when we cause them."