Last June, a local bicyclist was killed as he was run over by a truck along CO Highway 135. The Tragic Death of Gunnison Bicyclist Dale Thomas rocked the community. To make matters worse, it was soon revealed that the driver was an unlicensed sixteen year old, who was transporting equipment on a trailer for his employer – John Michael Collins – owner of AZ Asphalt LLC. The Gunnison and Crested Butte communities took a huge hit with the loss of one life and a serious impact on many others. The teen driver, who ran over Dale as he made a right turn on to Gunnison County Road 8, accepted responsibility and pled guilty to his charge of Careless Driving Causing Death. He is currently serving his sentence. However, John Collins (with the help of State Auto Insurance Company) seems to be dodging all responsibility in this case. He has been charged with (1) Employing or directing a person to drive on a highway contrary to law and (2) Conspiracy to Commit, or Aiding and Abetting in the commission of No Operators License when the teen drove a motor vehicle on the highway without having a valid license or permit. In contradiction to the criminal charges and multiple witness statements, State Auto Insurance asserts that Dale was to blame for his own death. Collins is challenging the two counts against him. Dale’s family has also filed a Wrongful Death lawsuit against Collins, attempting to find some justice in this tragic event.
Read the full article for additional details and information on the criminal and civil suits.