A Farmington man charged with two felony counts of vehicular assault in a head-on crash that seriously injured a Cortez man is scheduled for surgery next week and a judge is considering granting him a temporary release from jail to undergo the procedure.
In addition, Montezuma County Judge JenniLynn Everett set a preliminary hearing date of Dec. 19 for Thaddeus M. Ponder.
Besides felony and vehicular assault charges, Ponder has been charged with driving under the influence, reckless driving, failing to stop at a red light, leaving the scene of an accident, failing to report an accident and violating habitual criminal law standards.
Public defender John Moran informed Montezuma County Judge JenniLynn Everett that Ponder has a surgery scheduled at San Juan Regional Medical Center next week, and he might ask for a temporary release from jail so he could undergo the surgery.
Everett said she could not issue a release until she had adequate information about the need for the release and the conditions of the release.
She also noted no officer was assigned to the court who is certified to supervise Ponder in two states, Colorado and New Mexico, during a temporary release.
In a previous advisement hearing, District Attorney Will Furse said the investigation was ongoing, and additional charges could be filed against Ponder, who is being held in the Montezuma County Detention Center on a $75,000 cash surety bond.
On Oct. 22, Ponder is suspected of causing a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 160/491 in a construction zone south of Cortez that severely injured Kenneth R. Todd, 71, of Cortez.
Todd suffered a fractured rib, a pelvis injury, a spleen injury, a broken femur and a punctured lung. He was taken by helicopter to San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington.
According to the Colorado State Patrol, Ponder was speeding southbound in a red Ford F-250 pickup, crossed the centerline of traffic in a work zone and hit a silver Impala driven by Todd head-on.
Ponder reportedly hit another vehicle in Cortez before the head-on crash and clipped a guardrail. Ponder also was injured and was transported to Southwest Memorial Hospital.
According to a case affidavit, several people reported a drunken driver in a red pickup traveling in the same area. The CSP said witnesses saw the truck passing on the shoulder and weaving recklessly. One witness estimated it was traveling 80 mph in a 40 mph construction zone.
“The construction zone was active at the time of the crash, and there were numerous workers in the immediate area of the crash,” according to the State Patrol affidavit.
Drug use is also a suspected cause, based on statements and actions made by Ponder, police said. At the hospital, Ponder was incoherent and uncooperative, the affidavit states.
On Oct. 23, during the court bond hearing Furse said Ponder has a criminal record in New Mexico and Colorado, including robbery, assault, parole violations and sexual assault.
Ponder is also facing a DUI trial in San Juan County, New Mexico, and was driving without a license.