Man with history of seizures arrested in fatal crash
The man driving a vehicle that struck and killed a man whose vehicle was pulled over by a Colorado State Patrol trooper on Interstate 70 near Silt Aug. 16 has a history of seizures, lied about his condition to driver’s license officials and was driving more than 100 mph when the wreck occurred, an affidavit says.
The arrest warrant affidavit by Garfield County Sheriff’s Office investigator Brian Sutton says Jeffrey Burk, 31, of New Castle also was involved last year in a similar I-70 accident in Vail in which two women were injured.
The warrant, for alleged offenses including manslaughter, was issued Friday and Burk subsequently turned himself in at the Garfield County Jail, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. His bond was set at $100,000. Sheriff’s spokesman Walt Stowe said Burk bonded out three hours after surrendering himself.
Shaw Lewis, 39, of Rifle died in the wreck. The trooper, Charles Hiller, who was just outside the passenger side of the vehicle that was struck, with his head inside the window, was treated and released from Grand River Medical Center in Rifle after suffering moderate injuries. Burk also was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
The affidavit says Hiller had pulled over Lewis for staying in the passing lane when he had an opportunity to move over. Ironically, Hiller was participating in an operation in which a trooper pulls over a vehicle, and then a second trooper vehicle parks behind them to look for motorists who fail to move over during emergency stops as required by state law. The second patrol vehicle hadn’t yet arrived when the wreck occurred.
The affidavit said Burk said he felt a small seizure while traveling 76 mph, slowed slightly and then woke up “wondering why my truck was beat up.” But the affidavit says the rear radar in Hiller’s patrol car and the onboard computer in Burk’s vehicle both show he was traveling more than 100 mph, and witnesses also estimated he was driving at such a speed.
The affidavit says Burk’s parents reported he has been epileptic most of his life, had been on medications, and about a year and a half ago had an experimental implant placed into his head as a treatment. They said he drove minimally, mostly biking to work.
The affidavit says a state Department of Revenue investigator reported that in applying to obtain and subsequently renew a driver’s license over the years, Burk repeatedly answered no to a question about whether he had conditions in the previous two years including epilepsy that would interfere with his ability to safely drive.
It says that a Vail police report shows that in May 2016, Burk was driving a vehicle that rear-ended another on I-70, injuring two women in the second vehicle. The report says Burk was traveling with coworkers who said he hit the gas hard beforehand, and one of them tried to alert him during and after the accident but he was unresponsive and appeared to have had a medical episode.
A 2015 Glenwood Springs police report shows Burk’s vehicle rear-ended another vehicle on Grand Avenue. Burk kept driving and was arrested in New Castle, and later pleaded guilty to careless driving.
The affidavit says Burk, in driving a vehicle despite risk of a seizure, “willfully and wantonly” endangered all vehicles on I-70 the day of the fatal accident.