Judge to decide verdict in German motorcyclist case
July 10, 2014
Steamboat Springs — A bench trial was held Thursday for the Steamboat Springs man accused of reckless driving related to the death of a 60-year-old German motorcyclist last summer.
Routt County Judge James Garrecht said after closing arguments that it likely would be Monday, at the earliest, before he delivers his verdict.
Scott Penfold has been charged with weaving and careless driving resulting in death, a Class 1 traffic misdemeanor. If found guilty of careless driving, Penfold could face time in jail.
Penfold was driving the Jeep Liberty that crashed into Fels Bernhard on July 2 on Lincoln Avenue in Steamboat.
After listening to testimony, it still was not clear what caused Penfold to drift into oncoming traffic. Penfold did not testify at the trial, but he reportedly told police and doctors that he had experienced a tingling feeling before the crash, but it was unclear whether he may have passed out.
Penfold was cooperative during the police investigation and saw Dr. Louise Thielen to try to figure out if a medical condition caused the crash.
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"We didn't find a medical condition that would have resulted in it," Thielen said.
Routt County Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Karzen said during closing arguments that Penfold crashed the car because of either being distracted, because he fell asleep or because of a medical event. In regard to the medical event, Karzen said this was not the first time Penfold had experienced the tingling feeling.
Karzen said Penfold lost control of his car on Rabbit Ears Pass three years before the crash after experiencing the tingling, but he never disclosed the event during medical exams required for work. Karzen said that Penfold was a taxi driver, and if he would have disclosed the event, he might have had his commercial driver’s license taken away.
In Penfold's defense, attorney Drew Johnroe said Penfold feels awful about what happened and argued that people experience medical events that cannot be explained.
"To Mr. Penfold, it's a mystery, but it wasn't his conscious disregard," Johnroe said.