Woman Videotaped Falling Asleep While Driving On I-25

Witness Says Drowsy Driver Was Going Up To 70 MPH

An admittedly drowsy driver has been ticketed following an incident that was all caught on videotape.

The woman drove for more than 30 miles in the Denver metro area while she was nodding off.

Christian Pruett and his wife were driving on Interstate 25 on Monday morning when they noticed a sport utility vehicle next to them drifting from lane to lane, and nearly sideswiping their car.

The couple grabbed their video camera and photographed the sleeping woman with her head back as her vehicle moved along I-25 at speeds of up to 70 mph.

7NEWS contacted the registered owner of the vehicle Wednesday night and was told a friend was driving the vehicle. The woman, who asked not to be identified, said her friend had been fighting the flu and was en route to a doctor in Fort Collins. The vehicle owner claims her friend frequently caught herself nodding off.

The Pruetts called the Colorado State Patrol via *CSP several times to report the woman's location, but there were jurisdictional problems as she crossed into different cities.

"I couldn't believe it took so long," Pruett told TheDenverChannel.

At one point, the Pruetts gasped as the woman's SUV swerved in front of a speeding 18-wheeler.

The sleepy motorist wasn't stopped until she'd driven all the way into Weld County, which is under the state patrol's traffic jurisdiction.

CSP spokesman Trooper Gilbert Mares said authorities responded as quickly, and safely, as possible.

7NEWS confirmed Wednesday Pruett was routed to Denver 911 twice, called directly a third time, and spoke with CSP during a fourth call. Both Denver Police and State Patrol officials said all protocols and procedures were followed by dispatchers and responding officers.

The Colorado State Patrol identified the driver as Karyn Steinert, 28, of Littleton, Colo., according to the Rocky Mountain News. She was ticketed for investigation of reckless driving.

She reportedly told the trooper who stopped her that she had only slept two hours the night before, and that she has multiple sclerosis, which can slow response times.

Responding to concerns raised by Pruett about response times, the following time line was provided to 7NEWS. Information is based on details provided by the Denver Police Department and Colorado State Patrol.

10:02 A.M. - First call recieved by Denver 911 via Pruett's original *CSP call. 10:04 A.M. - Denver police say an alert was aired to District 4 and all highway cars. 10:10 A.M. - Pruett calls a second time. Denver police say responding officers were already in the area of I-25 and I-70. 10:18 A.M. - Pruett calls Denver 911 directly. By this time, Denver police say the vehicle is out of the primary jurisdiction. 10:19 A.M. - CSP says it received a call from Pruett. When a state trooper is not in the immediate area known as District 1, CSP notifies the next District to the North, District 3. A trooper terminated a call and began to wait for vehicle in question. 10:33 A.M. - CSP Trooper successfully pulls over vehicle. Driver cited and given transportation to a Park And Ride location to wait for friend.

Executive Director of Denver 911, Carl Simpson, told 7NEWS all dispatchers take their jobs very seriously and treated this case in the same manner.

Denver Police Spokesperson Sonny Jackson said, "They (dispatchers) did everything according to policy."

Pruett, however, remains concerned about the amount of time it took for law enforcement to eventually catch up to the vehicle.

"There were times when she passed between semis when I thought, 'That's it, this is over we're going to see someone die, and all we'll have is this video tape that shows nobody was there to help.'"

In a recent study by Virginia Tech researchers, cameras were installed in 100 cars, most of them the study participants' personal cars, to film driving behavior for a whole year. The study's findings included the determination that drowsy drivers were a factor in about 12 percent of the crashes that occurred during the year. The study showed that drowsiness contributed to 20 percent of all crashes and 16 percent of near crashes. Researchers were concerned by the findings because they believe that drowsiness as a factor in car crashes or near-accidents is under-reported.

"People think drowsy driving means you fall asleep," a researcher said. "All it takes is a lapse of a second or two, and you might not be aware of it. The Virginia Tech research showed that the drowsy driver could be you. It could be me."

Print this article Back to Top