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Two killed in suspected DUI crash on I-25 in Douglas County

Posted at 4:59 PM, Oct 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-14 18:45:48-04

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — Two people were killed in a suspected DUI crash on Interstate 25 in Douglas County Wednesday night, the Colorado State Patrol said.

Around 10:30 p.m., a group of four people was experiencing vehicle trouble in the acceleration lane of northbound I-25 near Castle Rock. CSP said a trooper responded to help the group from Aurora with a missing tire on the shoulder of the road.

According to the agency, the trooper told two people from the group to get back inside the vehicle as a safety precaution. A short time later, the trooper was walking away from the two when a car took over the shoulder, CSP said. The driver struck the two people, killing them instantly, then hit the guardrail, which disabled the vehicle, according to CSP.

The driver — identified as Michelle Branch, 47, of Castle Rock — was taken to the hospital and later discharged.

An arrest affidavit in the case obtained by Denver7 Friday shows Branch told deputies responding to the crash she "did not realize she was in a crash," and had a strong smell of alcohol coming from her breath.

The woman reportedly told deputies she had some drinks at The Great Divide brewing company and that she was headed home to Crystal Valley in Castle Rock, "but she was headed the opposite direction," the affidavit states. Branch also claimed she was picking up her daughter from work.

When asked to rate her level of impairment on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being completely sober and 10 being the most impaired she has been in her life, Branch rated herself as being a 3 on the scale, and refused to take a breathalyzer test, according to a trooper at the scene.

"Branch displayed confusion, bloodshot/watery eyes, the smell of an unknown alcoholic beverage coming from her breath, unsteadiness, and slurred speech," according to the affidavit.

She was arrested on two counts of vehicular homicide and count of DUI and booked into the Douglas County Jail, arresting documents show.

Records show Branch branch bonded out of jail Thursday evening. Court records show she is set to be formally charged in the case next Tuesday, Oct. 18.

“Two lives ended due to one person’s choice to selfishly get behind the wheel while impaired,” Colorado State Patrol Chief Matthew C. Packard said in a press release. “This tragedy is another example of people failing to act responsibly, failing to make a plan for a sober ride, and failing to drive within their designated lane. Five lives changed in the blink of an eye and it didn’t have to happen.”

Of the fatal crashes investigated by CSP from January through July, 18% were caused by an impaired driver, the agency said.

Editors note on Oct. 14 at 4:40 p.m.: This story has been updated to include information from an arrest affidavit obtained by Denver7 on Oct. 14.