Victim of fatal crash had been pulled over
A Fruita police officer who contacted and released an 18-year-old Grand Junction woman early Sunday morning came upon an accident about a half-hour later in which the same woman lay dying.
Samantha Ann Loy, 18, died after her car careened off the eastbound lane of Interstate 70 by mile marker 23, near the 20 Road overpass, and flung her unrestrained body out the driver’s-side window, authorities said.
Loy, a 2008 Central High School graduate and a Mesa State College freshman, was a contestant for Miss Colorado Teen USA 2009 and had been a competitive cheerleader in Grand Junction since childhood, relatives said.
Fruita police officer Nick Peck stopped Loy’s car about 1 a.m. for two minor traffic violations, Chief Mark Angelo said in a press release.
Loy appeared to be having difficulty finding a friend’s house, and Peck suggested she wait in a parking lot for the friend to lead her there.
Peck observed no indicators of alcohol or drug impairment with Loy, Angelo said in the press release.
Alcohol was considered a factor in the crash, the State Patrol said. Loy’s sister-in-law, Valerie Loy, also said that Samantha had been drinking.
No immediate information as to her blood-alcohol content was available. A blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent is the threshold for driving under the influence in Colorado. At 18, however, Loy, couldn’t drink legally.
“She had been drinking more than she should have been,” Valerie Loy said.
It also is possible that Loy was using her cell phone at the time of the accident, State Patrol Trooper Mike Heath said.
The possibility that she was texting at the time was “what we’re thinking,” Heath said.
It wasn’t known immediately how much Loy had been drinking or where she had been before she was contacted the first time by the Fruita police, Valerie Loy said.
Fruita Officer Peck was shaken by the series of events, Angelo said.
“He’s going through second-guessing himself, wondering if he had done things differently.” Angelo said. “He’s having a hard time with it. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances.”
Peck was one of at least three Fruita officers who went to the accident scene.
When the officers at the accident concentrated only on Loy, others who stopped questioned why the officers weren’t looking for any other victims, Valerie Loy said.
“We know she was alone,” Valerie Loy said the officers responded. “We just pulled her over.”