Bus driver cleared in injury crash

A bus driver won’t be charged in an Oct. 26 accident in which 11 passengers were injured near Carbondale.

But the driver of a tractor, Travis Wingfield, 36, of Snowmass, will be cited with a traffic infraction for not having a slow-moving vehicle emblem on the tractor.

That’s the determination of 9th Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia, after questions had arisen about whether the emblem requirement applied to tractors even though they aren’t considered motor vehicles under the law.

Caloia announced her decision Monday, more than three weeks after a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus swerved in the dark on Colorado Highway 82 to avoid the tractor in a 65-mph zone. The bus rolled onto its side, and 11 passengers were sent to local hospitals. Three had serious injuries, but none of those were life-threatening.

“I don’t believe we could have proven that the driver of the bus was careless or reckless in this situation beyond a reasonable doubt,” Caloia said.

She said there was no indication that the bus was exceeding the speed limit.

Caloia said the tractor had lighting on it that appeared to be adequate under the law, but a farming implement on the back of the tractor may have been blocking some of the lights. There’s some question whether the bus driver could have seen the lights and distinguished what was on the road, she said.

The bus was being driven by Jaime Nunez of Glenwood Springs. He was treated on the scene for minor injuries.

Caloia said state law requires the emblem on slow-moving machinery, which is why she believes the ticket is appropriate even though farm equipment is specifically not a motor vehicle under the law.

The emblem requirement applies to machinery designed to operate, or normally operated, at speeds less than 25 mph on a public highway.


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