Judge finds Steamboat man guilty of careless driving resulting in death
July 15, 2014
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs man who swerved, hit and killed a German motorcyclist has been found guilty of careless driving resulting in death as well as weaving.
Scott Penfold’s sentencing has been set for 8:30 a.m. July 23. Penfold faces a minimum of 10 days in Routt County Jail, a maximum of one year in the jail and a fine of between $300 and $1,000.
Penfold’s attorney, Drew Johnroe, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The one-day bench trial was held Thursday.
The defense argued Penfold might have blacked out, which caused him to swerve into oncoming traffic July 2, 2013, near the Steamboat Springs Community Center on U.S. Highway 40.
In his ruling, Judge James Garrecht wrote there was no evidence that Penfold took any evasive maneuvers to avoid the accident, and there was no evidence of drug or alcohol impairment. Two of the motorcyclists touring the United States were hit, and Fels Bernhard died at the scene.
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“It is clear to the court that when one drives into the opposite lane of traffic without justification that person is not exercising due care,” Garrecht wrote.
Testimony during the trial showed that Penfold reported experiencing a tingling feeling before the accident. He also suffered from diabetes, had a slightly elevated blood sugar count and elevated heart rate, but none of those issues supported the conclusion that Penfold blacked out, Garrecht determined.
Garrecht wrote that Penfold initially denied to emergency responders that he blacked out.
“Neither the EMT, the emergency room doctor, (n)or the defendant’s physician could find any medical evidence that would support the conclusion that the defendant blacked out,” Garrecht wrote.
After the accident, Penfold cooperated with police during their investigation. Johnroe said during the trial that Penfold felt awful about what had happened.
“For whatever reason, the defendant became distracted from his primary obligation to negotiate his vehicle safely,” Garrecht wrote.
District Attorney Brett Barkey stated in a press release that his office “will review all appropriate facts and circumstances prior to making any sentencing recommendation.”
"Our office again extends our deepest sympathies to Mr. Bernhard's family and friends, and hopes this result will bring a measure of closure for them,” Barkey stated. “As for Mr. Penfold, his choices that day are reflected in the verdicts, and it is our hope that he takes time to consider those choices as he moves ahead in his life.”