Case dropped against woman who injured state patrolman
Mesa County prosecutors dismissed a case Friday against the driver of a pickup that slammed into a Colorado State Patrol trooper in November, saying they can’t prove a crime was committed.
Tracy Conklin, 47, of Grand Junction, had been charged with a misdemeanor count of careless driving causing injury. She was behind the wheel of a black GMC Sierra that struck veteran State Patrol trooper Randy White, which happened as White was investigating another accident around 8:15 p.m. on Nov. 13 on U.S. Highway 6&50 near 20 Road.
White, who has worked 24 years for the State Patrol, suffered numerous injuries and returned to work Jan. 19, performing limited duties.
“We didn’t see a reasonable likelihood of conviction,” said Deputy District Attorney Kris Miller, characterizing the incident as an unfortunate accident.
Miller said Conklin has maintained she never saw the trooper, who was wearing a reflective vest, as he was standing in the left lane of eastbound traffic, collecting measurements on another accident that had occurred minutes earlier.
Emergency vehicles and a tow truck parked in the right-hand lane were forcing traffic into the left lane, Miller said. No flares or traffic cones were in place to warn oncoming drivers.
Conklin was driving 20 mph to 30 mph at the time of the collision in a stretch of roadway posted for 55 mph. White was facing north, his left side exposed to Conklin’s oncoming truck, Miller said.
The trooper was thrown 20 to 30 feet.
Conklin immediately stopped her vehicle and has remained “very apologetic,” Miller said.
State Patrol Capt. Ed Clark, with the agency’s Fruita branch, said White has returned to light, office-based duties, working about four hours daily between regular visits to his doctor and physical therapist.
“A broken scapula, four broken ribs, lacerated spleen, torn up knee, and I had blood clots shot into my lungs,” White said in an interview Friday.
“Other than that, I’m doing all right,” he said, laughing.
White wasn’t happy about the dismissal of charges against Conklin.
“It seems to me they could have offered her a deferred (sentence), but it’s not my job to do theirs,” he said. “My wife’s pretty upset about it.”
White, 49, said he was prescribed regular doses of blood-thinners when clots forced him back into the hospital a second time, after his initial release from St. Mary’s Hospital.
So far, workers’ compensation has covered his extensive medical bills.
White sees a physical therapist Mondays and Wednesdays for lingering problems with his shoulder, which may require surgery.
He had planned to retire in October of this year, which will mark a quarter-century with the State Patrol.
“I can’t retire until I’m done doing all the doctor stuff,” the Palisade resident said. “At least I’m upright. It could be worse.”