FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A Colorado State Patrol trooper accused of running a stop sign in Fort Collins while off-duty in January, causing a crash that seriously injured three other people, faces a misdemeanor traffic charge for the crash, though he remains with CSP.
Trooper Brian Pettit was driving his personal vehicle with his 9-year-old son on the evening of Jan. 22 when he ran a stop sign and was hit by another car that had the right-of-way at the intersection of Giddings Drive and Richards Lake Road.
Pettit, his son, and two people in the other vehicle were all hospitalized after the crash with serious injuries.
Though he was off duty, the Eighth Judicial District’s Critical Incident Response Team was called in to the investigate the crash since it involved a state patrol trooper, which automatically leads to an investigation by the district attorney’s office.
District Attorney Clifford Riedel released his findings on the crash Wednesday based off reports from the CIR team.
Police found that Pettit had been driving 55 miles per hour in on Richards Lake Road, where the speed limit is only 40 miles per hour.
He told investigators he’d looked down to adjust the radio as he approached the intersection with Giddings Drive, and by the time he looked back up, realized that he wouldn’t be able to stop at the oncoming stop sign in time.
He ran the stop sign, and was hit by the oncoming car on Giddings, which had the right-of-way.
Riedel’s Wednesday letter says that though no first responders detected any signs of alcohol consumption at the scene, investigators with the CIR team later found out that Pettit had drank alcohol at a birthday party earlier that day before he drove.
But the DA’s Office said it couldn’t prove Pettit was under the influence at the time.
“It is reasonable to believe that this alcohol consumption was a contributing factor in this crash. However, insufficient evidence exists to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Pettit was legally under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash,” Riedel wrote.
Still, Riedel wrote that Pettit “was operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner, which resulted in serious bodily injury to others.”
He filed a single charge against Pettit for careless driving resulting in bodily injury, which is a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense.
Pettit remains employed by Colorado State Patrol, the agency confirmed Wednesday.