Steamboat Springs Dented pickups, bent street signs and vehicle parts lined Jefferson Avenue in downtown Hayden on Tuesday night as a large crowd gathered near the parking lot of Hayden Middle School.
In the center of the chaos was a 1998 Ford Expedition buried in one of the school’s empty classrooms. The brick wall and window that made up the outside wall of the room were gone, and the blinds covering the window partially blocked the view of the white SUV that was inside the classroom.
According to a crash report issued by Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott, who declined to comment on a possible cause of the accident, the incident began at about 4:55 p.m. when the driver of the vehicle, 26-year-old Richard Bomar Jr., of Hayden, was driving west on U.S. Highway 40 (Jefferson Avenue) at Chestnut Street when he rear-ended a 2012 Chevrolet 1500 pickup driven by 39-year-old Carl Bell, of Craig.
Bell was traveling less than the speed limit at the time because of slower traffic in front of him. After crashing into the back of Bell’s Chevy, Bomar continued west and rear-ended a 2002 Dodge Ram 2500, which was slowing and preparing to turn left at Poplar Street.
After striking the Dodge, which was driven by 46-year-old Darrin Dunkley, of Hayden, Bomar continued west and drove onto the sidewalk on the right side of U.S. 40 before striking a sign, a light pole and a planter. The Expedition then crossed Poplar Street where it struck another sign and entered a parking lot of a business where it struck a 1995 Dodge Ram 3500, which was pushed into a parked 2002 Ford 150. Neither of the vehicles was occupied at the time.
The Expedition then veered to the left, crossing all lanes of U.S. 40 and running through a fence and into a parked utility trailer. Debris from the collision struck and damaged another trailer adjacent to the first. The Expedition continued through the parking lot, striking another sign, shrubs and then finally running into the school where it ended up inside a classroom.
Hayden Superintendent Mike Luppes said structural engineers and an asbestos mitigation company would be at the middle school within the next couple of days to examine the damage.
Luppes said he expects crews might have to address some asbestos issues in the dated building, and although he doesn’t think the incident caused any major structural damage, he wants to make sure before students and staff return for the school year. Teachers are scheduled to start Aug. 26, and students will return Sept. 3.
Luppes said the cost of the damage is unknown, but he was hopeful repairs would be completed by the time school starts. If that’s not the case, he said, the school simply would make a few adjustments and work around the construction.
“There is really only one classroom that was impacted,” Luppes said. “We may have to move a few things around, but that’s no big deal.”
Bomar was able to walk away from the accident, according to the State Patrol. There were no injuries to any of the drivers, and there was no one in the classroom at the time of the crash.
Bomar was issued a summons for careless driving. He was not arrested, and District Attorney Brett Barkey said he would await the accident report from the State Patrol before pursuing charges.
A message left for Bomar was not returned.
State Patrol was assisted in its investigation by officers from the Hayden Police Department and the Routt County Sheriff’s Office as well as the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the West Routt Fire Protection District and the Hayden School District.
Car crashes into Hayden Middle School
To reach John Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com
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