ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. – An Adams County Sheriff’s Office commander was convicted Wednesday of two traffic offenses, including careless driving causing death, for a crash that happened last March north of Bennett and killed an 85-year-old woman.
John Bitterman, the 44-year-old ACSO commander, ran a stop sign on E. 88th Ave. at the intersection with Highway 79 on the morning of March 28 while he was on-duty driving his unmarked patrol vehicle and crashed with an SUV.
The crash killed Eira Saenz Sandoval, 85, who was a passenger in the SUV, and left the driver, a 58-year-old woman, with a fractured leg and sternum.
Bitterman had not been dispatched to a call before the crash and had not turned on his lights or siren, according to the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case. Evidence presented during the trial showed he was logging into his computer just before the crash occurred.
The district attorney’s office said that data from Bitterman’s patrol vehicle showed he slowed to about 29 miles per hour two seconds before he crashed into the other vehicle but that he had put the pedal to the floor and was accelerating at the time of the crash. The speed limit in that area is 55 miles per hour.
Colorado State Patrol found Bitterman was “likely distracted” when he ran the stop sign, the district attorney’s office said.
The 17th Judicial District jury convicted Bitterman on one count of careless driving resulting in death and one count of careless driving causing bodily injury – both traffic offenses.
He is set to be sentenced on Feb. 28.
The sheriff’s office said Cmdr. Bitterman is on full duty with its detective division and previously served a two-day suspension as a result of the investigation into the crash.