DENVER — The chief of the Colorado State Patrol pleaded with Colorado drivers to "do your job" after a series of crashes that seriously injured a trooper over the weekend.
Matthew Packard made the comments during a press conference Monday where he also provided an update on the trooper's condition and released dash-cam footage of Saturday's crash.
"When you look at what's happened in our state over the last several months, it's really easy to draw parallels. So, by the grace of God, today, I'm standing here talking about patrol cars being hit, and not people losing their lives on Saturday morning," Packard said.
Packard said two drivers — both suspected of being impaired — are in custody after they allegedly crashed into the same accident scene about an hour apart on I-270 in Adams County.
Trooper Kevin Bagley, investigating the initial crash, fell 30 feet from the road and over a bridge after the second vehicle crashed into the rear of his patrol car. Bagley, a two-year veteran of the force, was transported to UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital where he was released the next day.
"We are so lucky, where he fell was softer than what he could have landed on to the left or to the right of where he fell. We got lucky. I just don't want to rely on that," Packard said.
The CSP chief said counting Saturday's incident, there have been 12 patrol cars damaged in crashes in Colorado so far this year, a marked increase from the previous year.
"Here we are in the middle of July, and we're already at 12. And there are some really prevailing themes that we see in these things—a quarter of them were at the hands of somebody using alcohol or drugs or something else to impair their judgment," Packard said.
With 2022 breaking a record for fatal accidents in Colorado, Packard urged drivers to take responsibility.
"I'm asking for everybody's help, I'm demanding it quite frankly. This is what our job is. It's to make sure that our roads are safe so our communities can be safe, and that is entirely contingent upon people making good decisions," he said.
Adams County, where Saturday's crash occurred, leads the state in the number of DUI-related crashes, according to Packard.
"Do your job. Drive your car responsibly when you see somebody making poor decisions, whether it's with alcohol or drugs, or driving recklessly or speeding. Do your job, say something. Do something to make sure that people can be safe," he said.
Ivan Hernandez, 22, is facing DUI charges after reportedly ramming into the first patrol car. Cesar Ayala Manriquez, 30, is accused of crashing into the second patrol vehicle that caused Trooper Bagley to fall off the bridge. Manriquez is facing charges of vehicular assault and DUI.