Crash driver: Was late for DUI hearing

Tonie Rosales

Eunjey Cho

A Palisade woman said she was running late for a court appearance in Delta on Wednesday afternoon—a hearing related to her impaired-driving arrest in June in Delta County—when she careened off U.S. Highway 50 and killed a cyclist who was riding in a cross-country fundraiser.

Tonie Rosales, 29, told Colorado State Patrol troopers Wednesday she took Percocet the night before and recalled driving her Chevy Blazer in the right-hand lane of the highway when she fell asleep, colliding with 25-year-old Eunjey Cho on his bicycle, according to an arrest affidavit filed yesterday in Mesa County.

Rosales appeared “very sleepy” and had heavy eyes, a trooper observed.

“She said she woke up as she left the right lane and then hit the victim with her vehicle,” the affidavit said. “Based on the evidence at the scene it appeared that the victim was struck on the right shoulder of the roadway.”

A Mesa County sheriff’s deputy arriving at the crash scene around milepost 46 found Cho was unconscious and not breathing, but detected a faint pulse. A second man cycling with Cho was uninjured. Cho was flown to St. Mary’s Hospital via CareFlight helicopter, where he died.

Rosales on Thursday stood with arms crossed, appearing in court for advisement, and said little as County Court Judge Bruce Raaum ordered her jailed on $50,000 bond and advised her of possible charges including vehicular homicide, driving under the influence of drugs, failure to drive in a single lane and careless driving causing death.

A trooper wrote in an arrest affidavit Rosales refused roadside sobriety tests and was transported to St. Mary’s for a blood draw — samples of blood taken to test intoxication levels. The results weren’t immediately known.

“Upon arrival at (St. Mary’s) hospital, Rosales was asleep in the back of Trooper Vrbas’ patrol vehicle,” the affidavit said. “Rosales complained that she had some pain from a recent surgery.”

When told Cho had died from his injuries, a trooper observed Rosales was “visibly upset.”

“Rosales slept on the way to the jail and slept during the creation of this affidavit,” the affidavit said. “Rosales was very lethargic throughout my contact with her.”


Rosales told troopers she was “running late” for a scheduled court hearing in Delta on Wednesday, according to the affidavit. Troopers were first called about Wednesday’s crash at 1:17 p.m.

Delta Combined Court records reviewed by The Daily Sentinel confirmed Rosales was scheduled for a plea hearing at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Delta. The case stems from her arrest June 6 by the Delta County Sheriff’s Department on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, failure to drive in a single lane and possession of a schedule 4 controlled substance.

Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee said Rosales was stopped by a deputy east of Delta about 6:30 p.m. June 6 after dispatchers had aired a “REDDI” report; a law enforcement acronym meaning “Report Every Drunk Driver Immediately.”

Rosales allegedly failed a roadside sobriety test, McKee said.

The sheriff said pills in a bottle, containing the anti-anxiety drug Diazepam, were allegedly found in her vehicle. She didn’t have a prescription, McKee said. Rosales was booked at the Delta County Jail.

On Thursday, a public defender who spoke on Rosales’ behalf told the judge she’s a mother of two children, a lifelong Grand Valley resident and had no criminal history prior to the June DUI arrest in Delta County.

A blog post to a website for the nonprofit Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, in Spokane, Wash., says Cho and a second man, John McGuin, were biking from Seattle to Princeton, N.J., with a goal of raising $2,400 for future volunteers in the program.

A representative of the group, who declined to be identified when reached by phone, also confirmed Cho’s biking trek on Thursday. The blog post indicates the duo had met their fund-raising goal.

“He was living life to the fullest, as he always did, when this tragedy occurred,” Cho’s brother wrote in a Facebook post Thursday.


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