Plea deal calls for 4 years in prison in death of UCCS officer

February 18, 2009

A Colorado Springs man will serve four years in prison for causing the death of a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police officer under a plea deal reached Wednesday.

Mark Vigil, 35, was charged in a fatal crash Oct. 16 at Bradley Road and Grinnell Boulevard in which off-duty campus officer Craig Highline, 52, was fatally struck while riding his motorcycle.

Deputy District Attorney Heidi Bauer said Wednesday during a court hearing that the agreement calls for Vigil to plead guilty to vehicular homicide and serve four years in prison. Vigil also was charged with leaving the scene of a crash causing serious injury or death. That charge will be dropped. The maximum sentence for vehicular homicide is six years.

Highline's widow, Jeanne Highline, said Wednesday she OK'd the agreement, but said "nothing will ever be harsh enough" for Vigil.

"Craig's death is a huge loss for this family," Highline said.

Highline was stopped at the intersection when he was rear-ended. Highline, who was wearing a helmet, was tossed from the motorcycle, which slid almost 60 feet.

The car, allegedly driven by Vigil, turned left on Grinnell after the crash and continued moving, according to an arrest affidavit by the Colorado State Patrol.
Nastasha Pomele, 42, told troopers she was drinking with Vigil that night.

The force of the crash with Highline's motorcycle inflated the air bags and broke the car's windshield, according to the arrest affidavit.

"She (Pomele) told him she wanted out of the car," the affidavit states. "The driver let her out of the vehicle, and she ran over to the motorcycle driver and checked to see if he was OK."

Pomele later showed investigators where Vigil lived, 1055 Montrose Ave.

He was arrested Oct. 17 outside the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center, where he said he was going to turn himself in.

Vigil pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol in February 2007 in Cheyenne, Wyo., according to Wyoming court records. He is on probation in that case until March 21.

Vigil, who declined comment Wednesday, remains free on $10,000 bail until his March 12 sentencing.



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