Updated: December 20, 2012 at 12:00 am
Prosecutors have asked a judge to drop all charges against a driver cited in an October crash that killed two pedestrians and sent a 14-month-old girl tumbling down the street in her baby stroller.
In a motion filed last week, the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office said it has “insufficient evidence” to pursue criminal charges against Jennifer Eggleton, of Colorado Springs.
Eggleton, 40, was cited by Colorado Springs police with failure to yield to a pedestrian and careless driving resulting in the Oct. 15 deaths of Rose Arcugari and Rebecca Lynn Robinson. The women were hit while crossing the street at North Carefree Circle and Picturesque Drive.
Robinson’s 14-month-old daughter, who was in a stroller, was thrown in the crash and suffered a skull fracture, police said. She was treated at Memorial Hospital and is in the care of Robinson’s surviving family members.
Although prosecutors filed the charges against Eggleton, dismissing them will require a judge’s approval.
El Paso County Court Judge Karla J. Hansen has yet to rule on the request, and Eggleton is due in court in February for a pre-trial conference.
The deaths of Robinson and Arcugari were among several deadly crashes involving pedestrians in Colorado Springs this year.
It’s unclear whether new evidence surfaced or if prosecutors changed their minds after a closer look at the circumstances. El Paso County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeff Lindsey, who is assigned to the case, said he couldn’t comment until the court had addressed the dismissal request.
According to Robinson’s parents, who were told last week of plans to drop the case, prosecutors cited concerns they would be unable to disprove Eggleton’s claim she was blinded by the sun while traveling north on Carefree Circle.
Prosecutors also told the family that another driver made a left turn onto Carefree Circle around the time of the crash, potentially blocking Eggleton’s view.
Robinson’s father, Robert Dillen, said their explanations ring hollow and raised questions over the thoroughness of the investigation.
“I cannot fathom how you cannot see two people crossing the street,” said Dillen, who is employed by The Gazette as a mechanic in the newspaper’s press room. “If the sun was in her eyes, why didn’t she slow down?”
Although the intersection has no marked crosswalk, Colorado Springs police said the area is legally considered a crosswalk because it is an intersection and that drivers should be watching for pedestrians at all intersections.
Eggleton’s defense attorney, Pat Mika, said the decision by prosecutors came after a “great deal of time and due diligence” in reviewing the crash.
“They came to the same conclusion we did: This was a terrible, tragic accident that was not any fault of Jennifer Eggleton,” Mika said. He declined to discuss the case in detail pending Hansen’s decision.
The women lived in an apartment complex on Picturesque Drive and were crossing North Carefree Circle on the way home after dropping off three of Robinson’s four children at school. The posted speed limit on that stretch of North Carefree Circle is 40 mph.
The road showed no signs of skid marks a day after the crash, and a man who said he witnessed the impact from his apartment balcony told The Gazette that Eggleton’s SUV did not appear to slow down.
Dillen said the handling of the investigation has reopened wounds in the wake of the tragedy, which split Robinson’s four children among three households.
“How dare my daughter disrupt this lady’s perfect life by just trying to cross the street?” he said bitterly.
Mika said Eggleton is “heartbroken” over the tragedy and sent written condolences to both families involved.
“She’s going to bear scars for the rest of her life,” Mika said. “I can assure you the Eggleton family has nothing but grief, sorrow and despair over the situation, and they wish for nothing more than peace for the surviving family members.”
The move to dismiss charges against Eggleton came the same week that she reached an out-of-court settlement in a wrongful death suit against her by Danielle Christensen, Arcuragi’s daughter, court records show.
The lawsuit, filed on Nov. 16, sought at least $100,000 on allegations that Eggleton “failed to maintain a proper lookout” before the crash. Terms of the financial award weren’t disclosed.
Christensen couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Robinson’s husband, Morris Robinson, has also filed suit, though no settlement has been reached, Dillen said.
Careless driving resulting in death is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine.