DNA helps seal fatal crash arrest
DNA testing — made possible by attentive traffic investigators and crime-scene technicians of the Grand Junction Police Department — helped show a Grand Junction man was driving in a January 2011 rollover crash on D 1/2 Road that killed a 39-year-old man, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Jason W. Shriver, 38, was ordered held Thursday at the Mesa County Jail on $10,000 bond, one day after his arrest on suspicion of vehicular homicide while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and DUI.
Shriver has alternatively admitted to and denied — allegedly flunking a polygraph examination along the way — being the driver of a 1999 Ford Taurus that rolled multiple times around 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 19, 2011, near 2911 D 1/2 Road, according to the affidavit.
The vehicle was allegedly speeding through an “S” curve when the driver lost control and both Shriver and Shannon Gallegos were ejected. Gallegos was pronounced dead at the scene, while Shriver was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital.
The Taurus was owned by Gallegos.
At the hospital, Shriver “nodded his head affirmatively” when twice asked by a Colorado State Patrol trooper if he was the driver. Shriver also allegedly admitted as much to a hospital employee.
But seven days later, in a meeting with police, Shriver denied he was driving. He agreed to a polygraph examination which showed “deception,” the affidavit said.
“Shriver then acknowledged he could have been the driver, but he couldn’t remember,” the affidavit said. “He didn’t think he was, but he may have been.”
Initial samples from the morning of the accident showed Shriver had a blood-alcohol level of .248 percent, more than three times Colorado’s legal limit for alcohol while driving.
Grand Junction police traffic investigators and crime scene technicians spotted and collected a spot of hair and skin left on a sidewalk by one of the people ejected from the vehicle. The materials were 95 feet from the point investigators surmised the vehicle lost control.
Gallegos’ autopsy showed he suffered injuries to the right side of his head, including an abrasion to his scalp. The affidavit said DNA testing showed the sidewalk material was from Gallegos.
“The placement of the hair and scalp on the ground relative to the location in the vehicle’s path shows that this hair and scalp could have only been left by the passenger in the car,” the affidavit said.
Window fragments embedded in the right side of Gallegos’ body told the same story. His blood was also found in five places around the passenger-side door.
“The evidence is consistent with Shannon Gallegos being ejected from the right front passenger door due to the location of the blood,” the affidavit said. “The investigation also indicated neither the driver or passenger was wearing a seat belt.”
The affidavit said all of Shriver’s injuries were on his left side, aside from abrasions to the middle, right-side of his back.
Shriver, who had a valid driver’s license at the time of the crash, has a “lengthy” history of violations including revoked licenses for being a habitual traffic offender, according to the affidavit.