1 teen dead, more injured in Garfield County crash with alcohol suspected
BASALT — A Western Slope teenager has died as a result of a weekend auto incident involving multiple juveniles.
Tyler Ribich, a junior at Basalt High School, has been identified as the teenager who was killed Friday night after the car he was in lost control and rolled off a road in Missouri Heights, law enforcement and school officials said Saturday.
Cpl. Ivan Alvarado, a State Patrol spokesman, said five teenagers were in the vehicle and alcohol likely was involved with the 18-year-old driver. He said in an update Saturday afternoon that one person was in the hospital with serious injuries and the three other occupants, including the driver, had minor injuries.
In a letter to parents Saturday afternoon, Basalt High School principal Peter Mueller said Ribich, 16, was the passenger who died.
“He was just elected to serve as one of two head students in his senior year, having given an election speech to the entire student body last week,” according to a post on the school’s Facebook page. “He brought down the house as Jack Scott in the school’s production of ‘High School Musical’ this winter. He sang in Men’s Chorus, and rapped in front of hundreds during Choir Coffeehouse last December.”
Mueller wrote that grief counselors would be at the school Monday. He said the family is asking for privacy during this “incredibly difficult time.”
“Families are welcome to send letters of support to BHS, and staff will deliver them to the family,” Mueller wrote.
Alvarado said the four who were injured were taken to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs. He did not have the exact ages of the passengers, but said they all were teenagers.
The accident happened around 11:45 p.m. Friday nearly two miles up Garfield County Road 102 (Fender Lane) from Highway 82, he said.
“They lost control and collided with a large rock,” Alvarado said. “It rolled and a couple of the occupants were ejected.”
He said “alcohol is definitely being investigated,” and the speed of the vehicle was not on the initial report.
Garfield County Coroner Rob Glassmire said Ribich was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:10 a.m. Saturday.
“Tyler Ribich was a passenger in the motor vehicle and ejected from the vehicle dying instantly, investigators do not believe he was wearing a seatbelt,” Glassmire said in a news release. “An autopsy will be scheduled for early next week.”
Glassmire said his office “cannot speculate if there was alcohol or drugs involved, if speed was a factor, or any other circumstances of the motor vehicle crash. The Colorado State Patrol is investigating the cause of the vehicle crash and surrounding circumstances.”
Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority Chief Scott Thompson was one of the first on scene and said the crash occurred just past where the road takes a 90-degree turn to the right and becomes Garfield County.
He said the call came in as two people ejected and three trapped in the car. A total of two fire trucks and four ambulances were sent to the scene between Thompson’s department and the Carbondale Fire Department, he said.
Those ejected did not have seat belts on, Alvarado said. He said two passengers were wearing seat belts and the other was unknown.
Alvarado said the driver, who has not been identified, is in custody.
Missouri Heights is a community near Carbondale and El Jebel in the Roaring Fork Valley.