No criminal charges in I-25 pileups involving 104 vehicles

DENVER - No criminal charges will be filed in the Interstate 25 pileups that killed one driver, injured 30 people and damaged 104 cars earlier this month.

The roads were so icy on that March 1 morning  that it "was like driving on the Avalanche skating rink of the Pepsi Center," said Denver police Sgt. Michael Farr, during a Friday morning news conference.

He said the weather change was so sudden and unexpected that many drivers were driving at normal speeds until a collision occurred and then everyone tried to stop but couldn't.

"Folks were desperate to bring their cars to a stop, they just couldn't do it," Farr said.

One driver used the concrete median to try to slow down and some drivers reported that the road was so slippery they could barely stand, said Denver police detective Stephanie Linkus.

Farr said after consulting with the district attorney, they agreed that any criminal charges from the crash would be fruitless because it would be hard to place blame.

"Based on the fact that there were rapidly changing conditions on the roadway due to weather, and really not one person to say, 'You are the person who caused this collision,' there's no way to pinpoint what really set this chain of events into motion except for a trigger event of some vehicles that lost control in front of our 18-wheeler," he said.

"The other consideration is do we cite 103 people for driving too fast for conditions? Load up our courtrooms, city attorney, district attorney --  to what end? Would we have a likelihood of juries to convict under those conditions?  Our conversations with the district attorney are simply, no." Farr added. "We do not believe juries would find persons to be at fault given the conditions of this collision."

He said with friction tests, dry pavement normally has a friction value of 0.8 but at the time of the crash, the highway was estimated at 0.2.

"That is like driving your car on the Avalanche skating rink at the Pepsi Center. You just can't bring that car to a  stop, no matter how hard you try. And at a low speed, you'll slide that car for a very long distance, and I think that's what we had here," Farr said.

He said the crash occurred at about 10:38 a.m. and by the time he arrived 20 minutes later, the snowy, icy road was simply wet.

Police have contacted nearly all the drivers involved but are still looking for five or six people who may have been involved in the wrecks but have not yet talked to police.

If you were involved in the pileup and have not spoken to Detective Linkus, please call 720-337-2000.

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