Man convicted of vehicular assault

— A jury convicted an Idaho Springs man of felony vehicular assault Tuesday at the Routt County Courthouse in Steamboat Springs.

The guilty verdict for Jerome Velasquez, 35, came after a two-day trial and 90 minutes of jury deliberation. About a year ago, Velasquez caused a head-on collision on U.S. Highway 40 that critically injured himself and Jacob Martinez of Craig. Velasquez was convicted of a Class 5 felony, which usually brings a sentence of one to three years in prison.

Velasquez is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. March 16 in Routt County District Court.

On Jan. 27, 2005, Velasquez was driving four miles west of Steamboat on U.S. 40 when he attempted to pass an 18-wheel dump truck. It was snowing, and the road reportedly was slick. His vehicle, a 2000 Chrysler Concorde, collided with an oncoming 1996 Chrysler Cirrus driven by Martinez, now 27.

A report by Colorado State Patrol Trooper Kirk Gardner said the men were extricated from their vehicles and taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. They also underwent numerous surgeries. Martinez was transported to Denver Health Medical Center, where his condition soon improved to stable.

Police said both vehicles were traveling about 65 mph on a flat, straight section of the highway when the collision occurred. Air bags deployed in both vehicles, and the drivers were wearing seat belts. Officers did not suspect alcohol was a factor in the accident.

Velasquez's vehicle reportedly caught fire after the collision, but bystanders put out the flames before Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue personnel arrived on the scene.

--o name Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

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