Elusive driver arrested after crash on school grounds
By Pat Sunderland
Published Thursday, March 23, 2017 10:30 am
A driver sought by the Colorado State Patrol led law enforcement officers on a twisting trek through Delta before barreling under a fence at Delta Middle School and crashing into an irrigation pump house.
Pedro Lopez, 29, of Grand Junction emerged from his green Ford Taurus with his hands in the air and was taken into custody without incident. A passenger in his vehicle, Marissa Bullard, 26, suffered minor injuries and was transported to Delta County Memorial Hospital. She was examined and released.
A Delta County sheriff's deputy spotted the green Taurus near the intersection of Highway 92 and Stafford Lane at about 9:45 p.m. Sunday night. The vehicle matched the description of a Taurus the CSP had been trying to locate the night before.
The deputy turned around and followed the Ford to the Maverik station at the corner of Highway 92 and 50. The deputy did not have his lights and siren on, but the driver gained speed as he approached the convenience store. When he pulled into the parking lot, the deputy anticipated making contact with the driver. Instead, he left the parking lot and ran a red light at the intersection of Highway 92 and 50. At that point, the deputy activated his lights and siren but hung back, maintaining visual contact while waiting for other officers to respond to the area. Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee explained it is department policy not to engage in high speed pursuit, but to maintain visual contact and, in this case, to warn motorists as the driver twice used the wrong lane of traffic. At one point he drove across the Gunnison River bridge, leading officers to believe he was leaving town. Instead he turned around, traveling east in the westbound lane. His erratic movements made it difficult to anticipate where the use of stop sticks would be effective.
After nearly 20 minutes of leading officers through town, Lopez drove down the 9th Street and into the fence at DMS. Although McKee said the pursuit could not be described as "high speed," Lopez was apparently traveling fast enough to miss the sharp turn at the bottom of the hill.
Lopez is facing charges of vehicular eluding, driving under the influence of drugs (possibly methamphetamine) and alcohol, criminal mischief, driving after revocation prohibited, reckless driving, driving on the wrong side of the roadway and a safety belt violation.
The arrest took place at about 10:10 p.m., with the assistance of the Colorado State Patrol, Delta Police Department and Delta County Sheriff's Office. The sheriff's office is handling the investigation because the initial stop was made by a sheriff's deputy.