Rifle man sentenced in 2007 fatality on I-70

A judge Wednesday ordered a Rifle man to complete an eight-hour driving class, among other penalties, related to a fatal accident on Interstate 70 in 2007.

James Wilson, 31, was threatened by County Court Judge Gretchen Larson with 60 days in jail if he fails to finish a Colorado State Patrol defensive-driving program or pay fines and court costs of $524 by Sept. 9. Wilson also was ordered to serve 100 hours of community service by Oct. 1.

Larson cited Wilson’s lack of criminal history in not ordering a jail sentence.

Wilson was convicted by a jury of careless driving, a misdemeanor, stemming from the Sept.  5, 2007, death of 50-year-old Las Vegas resident Paul Dobson, an over-the-road trucker who was struck by Wilson’s Ford Ranger while crossing the interstate. Dobson had stopped to check on a driver involved in an unrelated traffic accident.

The jury in Wilson’s trial, however, found Wilson was not the proximate cause of Dobson’s death.

“I tried to do the right thing,” Wilson told the judge.

Wilson initially was charged with felony leaving the scene of an accident involving death, which was dropped after 911 records showed he called authorities after pulling to the shoulder of I-70 approximately 4,000 feet west of where his vehicle hit Dobson near the Clifton exit.

Testimony during Wilson’s trial also showed he was driving below the posted speed limit, emerging from a rainstorm when he came up on an accident scene still thick with dust and debris kicked up in the wreck. Dobson, who had pulled his rig to the shoulder, was crossing the roadway after checking on the victims of the accident.

“He did not see Mr. Dobson,” public defender Andrew Ho told the judge.

Dobson’s daughter, Alexandria, 18, told the judge she has coped with her father’s death through high school.

“I’m getting married,” she said. “I will never get my father-daughter dance, and you have no idea what that means to me.”

Walking away from a courtroom podium, she turned to Wilson and said, “I forgive you.”


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