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Court finds sufficient evidence to advance felony charge in fatal car crash

Ignacio woman held on $50,000 cash-only bail
Aug 13, 2022
Man hit, killed by driver while setting up work zone east of Durango

A District Court judge has found sufficient evidence to allow prosecutors to pursue a felony charge against an Ignacio woman who is accused of killing one man and injuring another in a car crash in February southeast of Durango.

Two Colorado State Patrol troopers testified to the details of the crash in which Virginia Cundiff, 24, allegedly killed Dominic Sandoval, 22, of Farmington, and injured George Sedlack, 53, of Colorado Springs.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Todd Norvell said the prosecution established probable cause to pursue charges against Cundiff because she apparently failed to exhibit due care and caution while approaching a public utility vehicle that was parked on the shoulder of Colorado Highway 172, south of Elmore’s Corner.

The two victims were placing construction signs along a stretch of the highway when the crash occurred about 8:40 a.m. Feb. 10, according to state trooper testimony. Their vehicle, an Isuzu flatbed construction work truck, was stationed on the right shoulder of Highway 172, partially off the paved portion of the road, at the time of the collision, said State Trooper David Kerker, with State Patrol’s vehicular crimes unit.

The Isuzu was marked as a Paonia Inc. vehicle, Kerker said. Paonia Inc. is a traffic control company for construction work. Cundiff was driving a white Subaru.

State Trooper Bradley Spargur, a criminal interdiction specialist for the State Patrol, said he spoke with Cundiff at Mercy Hospital on the day of the crash. He said she told him that she was driving 55 mph and the sun was in her eyes. She glanced down at her speedometer and when she looked up she collided with the back of the truck.

He also testified that when he spoke with Cundiff, he did not observe any signs or indications that she was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He said she was alert and responded clearly and quickly to his questions. He also said she seemed shaken up, which he said is common for people involved in car crashes.

Kerker said the sun would have been behind Cundiff at the time of the crash and he did not believe its position or the weather, which he said was “cool and clear,” would have factored into the crash.

Kerker also inspected Cundiff’s Subaru and concluded there were no defects that would have contributed to the crash.

He said Cundiff consented to an inspection of an airbag control module in her Subaru that recorded speed, steering and brake data seconds before the crash.

Kerker said the airbag control module showed the Subaru was traveling at 55 mph five seconds before the crash and that no braking was applied until about one second before impact. When the module was activated, the Subaru was traveling at 47 mph.

“(Steering input data) showed that there was very little if any input coming up to the crash,” Kerker said before the court. “Just before braking was applied there was a right hand steering and then an attempt to steer back to the left, right before the module activated.”

Kerker discussed photos he took of the crash scene that showed gouge marks about a foot away from the edge of the pavement on the highway’s right shoulder. The gouge marks indicated the point of impact where the Subaru struck the Isuzu truck, he said.

The gouge marks show the front of the Subaru was driven into the pavement as it struck the Isuzu, he said.

Cundiff’s driver’s license was invalid at the time of the crash for two outstanding judgments, Kerker said. Her driver’s history showed two citations, one for careless driving in 2019 and another for speeding in 2014.

“The history had multiple restraints, suspensions and such,” he said.

Cundiff’s defense attorney requested a reduction of bond from $50,000 cash only to a $10,000 cash surety bond, but Assistant District Attorney David Ottman said Cundiff presents a danger to the community.

“In a few short months she has demonstrated an utter inability to comply with this court’s orders,” he said. “And these orders aren’t simply just to inconvenience Ms. Cundiff, but they are also to keep the community safe.”

He noted that Cundiff violated conditions of her bond when in March she tested positive for methamphetamines, and then failed to report at the end of April or early May.

“And in addition to her noncompliance of a rather important bond condition regarding her drug use, she was also violating the terms and conditions of her bond by driving,” he said.

Norvell sided with Ottman and rejected the defense’s request for a reduced bail amount.

Cundiff was booked into the La Plata County Jail after she was released from Mercy Hospital on the day of the crash.

She was released to pretrial services the next day and was to be monitored for drugs. On Feb. 21, Cundiff provided a urine sample at Peaceful Spirit, a subgroup of Southern Colorado Community Action Agency, which tested positive for methamphetamines, according to court records. She failed to appear for further substance testing on Feb. 25, which resulted in a warrant being issued for her arrest.

Cundiff’s next hearing is scheduled for 8 a.m. July 1.

cburney@durangoherald.com

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