Hit-and-run suspect held in June crash

Nathan O’Neil

The driver of a car that slammed into a pedestrian in June confided to another person that he didn’t stop because he’d been drinking alcohol, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Nathan Glenn O’Neil, 35, of Grand Junction, admitted to a Colorado State Patrol investigator he was driving a Pontiac Grand Prix in the predawn hours of June 19 when it struck 30-year-old Keith Gustad, launching Gustad into a nearby ditch in the 3100 block of E Road. O’Neil was arrested on a State Patrol warrant Tuesday.

Gustad, who as of Wednesday was no longer listed in a patient directory at St. Mary’s Hospital, was left with fractures to his pelvis and skull, a broken vertebra and a puncture to his small intestine.

A Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputy on patrol around 5 a.m. June 19 reported seeing a white baseball cap in the westbound lane of E Road, near Mountain Drive. The cap was about 75 feet from a shoe. Scanning with his flashlight, the deputy found Gustad lying in the grass off the roadway.

“... Mr. Gustad did not remember being struck by a vehicle, but he said he did not want to press charges against anyone,” the affidavit said.

The investigation showed Gustad had been involved in a fight with another man at a nearby home and was last seen jogging toward E Road.

The next day, a trooper was called out to investigate a black Pontiac Grand Prix with damage to its right front and windshield, which was parked at the intersection of 32 1/8 Road and D 7/8 Road, the affidavit said. Troopers concluded the damage was consistent with injuries suffered by Gustad, while noting a blue fiber on the car’s cracked head lamp. Gustad was wearing blue jeans when he was hit.

O’Neil initially claimed he didn’t know how his car was damaged, telling authorities a friend took it without his knowledge after the friend had been kicked out of Fantasy, 2258 Colex Drive, following a night of drinking with O’Neil and others, the affidavit said.

O’Neil was seen inside the club as early as 9 p.m. June 18, “stumbling and running into chairs,” a witness told troopers. He closed his tab around 1:30 a.m.

O’Neil was seen on video surveillance driving up in a black sedan at an Orchard Mesa gas station around 2 a.m., stumbling as he walked up a curb to enter the store, before buying cigarettes and leaving, the affidavit said.

The video shows his car returning six minutes later and O’Neil getting matches.

When confronted with the evidence, O’Neil changed his story, the affidavit said.

His girlfriend, Kristy Calabrese, 26, told investigators O’Neil told her he had hit “someone who was running across the road in front in him,” the affidavit said. “He told her he thought he saw the guy’s face and blond hair.”

O’Neil said he wanted to apologize to the victim, but he was advised by troopers to write a letter, the affidavit said.

O’Neil was advised Wednesday on possible charges, including vehicular assault, failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury, tampering with a witness, attempting to influence a public servant, plus misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of alcohol, careless driving causing serious bodily injury and driving an uninsured vehicle.

He was ordered held at the Mesa County Jail on $25,000 bond.


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