A former El Paso County Republican Party chairman has settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the widow of a pedestrian he hit and killed in downtown Colorado Springs in March 2017.

Terms of the Oct. 25 settlement between Trevor Dierdorff and Dianna Tolbert weren’t disclosed, according to court filings reporting the dismissal.

Tolbert’s attorney, Gordon A. Vaughan of Colorado Springs, said the amount of the award was confidential.

“I can’t disclose it, but I think that everybody is happy that it did settle, and that neither Mr. Dierdroff nor Ms. Tolbert have to go to trial.”

Dierdorff’s attorney, Billy-George Hertzke of Denver, did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Prior to the case being closed, Dierdorff, 47, had been due for a pretrial hearing Friday in 4th Judicial District Court, ahead of a four-day jury trial scheduled in December.

The settlement appears to close a controversial case arising from the April 2017 death of longtime Platte Floral owner Mel Tolbert, 79, who was struck and killed while crossing Tejon Street on his way to the members-only El Paso Club.

Tolbert and Dierdorff, who were friends, were on their way to the same meeting. As Tolbert crossed the street, Dierdorff, behind the wheel of a sport utility vehicle on Tejon, threw his SUV in reverse to “race” another driver to a parking spot and backed into Tolbert.

Questions of preferential treatment arose when District Attorney Dan May, a Republican, overrode Colorado Springs police and threw out citations against Dierdorff hours after they were issued. May argued that because Tolbert was jaywalking he, rather than Dierdorff, was at fault.

But according to police — and now plaintiff’s attorneys for Tolbert’s widow — the crash could have been avoided had Dierdorff checked his mirrors before backing up near a busy downtown intersection at Platte Avenue and Tejon Street.

“The speed of Dierdorff’s vehicle was so great as to throw Mr. Tolbert several feet to the pavement, causing him to hit his head and suffer fatal injuries,” attorney Gordon L. Vaughan said in a five-page complaint.

A surveillance camera posted outside a nearby building captured “disturbing” footage of the crash that supports Tolbert’s claim that Dierdorff drove carelessly, Vaughan said.

Within three weeks of the crash, police issued Dierdorff citations including careless driving resulting in death, a misdemeanor, but charges were dismissed the same day by May’s office.

The complaint sought damages for “funeral and burial expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, pain, suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress and the loss of the comfort, society, aid, services and companionship” allegedly caused by Dierdorff.

Dierdorff, founder and CEO of Amnet, a tech support company, resigned as executive director of the El Paso County Republican Party five months after the crash.


I cover legal affairs for The Gazette, with an emphasis on the criminal courts. Tips to lance.benzel@gazette.com

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