Berthoud accident claims 2 with GarCo ties

Family and friends are mourning the loss of two young adults with Garfield County ties who died Friday night in a car accident in Berthoud.

Marquelle “Kellie” Miller, 18, and Malachi Bilson, 20, died when the car Miller was driving turned left in front of another vehicle at 9:08 p.m., authorities said.

“We’re still kind of reeling and trying to figure out what took place,” said Miller’s uncle, Russell Talbott of New Castle.

Miller grew up in New Castle and had just moved to Denver. Talbott said Bilson was her good friend and had just returned to Silt after working in California. He had gone to Denver with his mother to visit a relative, Talbott said.

Berthoud police said it is believed that a female — later identified by the Larimer County Coroner’s Office as Miller — was driving a 1994 Toyota Corolla south on U.S. Highway 287 and turned left on state Highway 56 in front of a northbound 2011 Chevy Tahoe. The Tahoe came to rest upside down on Highway 56, and the Corolla went 200 feet off the road into a field.

Miller was pronounced dead on the scene after the Berthoud Fire Department extricated her from the vehicle. Bilson died at the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland.

A passenger who wasn’t wearing a seat belt was thrown from the Tahoe and was treated and released from the Medical Center of the Rockies, along with a second Tahoe passenger. The 21-year-old male driver, from Murfreesboro, Tenn., and a fourth passenger weren’t taken to the hospital.

Police said drugs or alcohol may have been a factor for Miller, but not for the driver of the Tahoe.

But Talbott said the family since has been told drugs and alcohol weren’t involved.

Berthoud police and Larimer County Deputy Coroner Jere Gunderson said toxicology test results still are being awaited. The Colorado State Patrol is assisting with the investigation.

Miller recently performed in the Aspen Community Theatre musical, “Crazy for You.”

“Both of these kids were extremely talented,” Talbott said.

Bilson is a 2010 graduate of Coal Ridge High School. Miller graduated from the Garden School, a Christian school in New Castle.

Both Bilson and Miller had attended the New Hope Community Church in the New Castle area.

Talbott described his niece as “one of those that there’s really no words that you can say how much she will be missed and how important she was to a lot of people.”


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