Accident leads to long chase in Routt County

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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS A Steamboat Springs police officer was given authorization to apprehend an alleged drunken driver outside of the city limits just before noon Tuesday.

Officer Pua Utu stopped Geraldine Kay Heddon, 45, of Steamboat Springs three miles from town on Colorado 131, said Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing. Heddon was extremely intoxicated, police said.

"In this situation an officer was in hot pursuit of a person we felt was a danger to the driving public," Fiebing said. "I authorized the officer to continue the pursuit until he caught her.

"I credit the officer for saving her life and other people."

Utu started the pursuit after a two-car accident was reported at the intersection of Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue at about 11:20 a.m.

Heddon reportedly rear-ended a vehicle and then left the scene. The man whose vehicle Heddon allegedly hit told police he believed Heddon was intoxicated.

Utu started to follow the vehicle as it headed east on U.S. 40. He continued the pursuit on Colo. 131 when Fiebing gave him authorization.

Utu "followed the woman with his lights on for almost a mile before she stopped," Fiebing said. "She stopped her vehicle in the middle of the road."

Authorities allegedly had a tough time taking the woman into custody. Utu was assisted at the scene by sheriff's deputies, Fiebing said.

"The officers had to take her down to the ground," he said. "There were no injuries to the woman or the officers."

Heddon was booked into the Routt County Jail. She faces charges of drunken driving, resisting arrest, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to notify police of an accident.

Authorities do not know how intoxicated Heddon was at the time of her arrest because she refused to submit to a blood or breath test, Fiebing said. (Gary E. Salazar is a reporter for the Steamboat Springs Pilot/Today.)

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