A Dolores man was arrested Dec. 7 in an alleged hit-and-run involving two pedestrians and an infant near the Dolores Community Center, according to the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office.
According to an arrest affidavit, Jeff Lee Merchant of Dolores was driving a silver SUV near Riverside Avenue and Fourth Street just before 10 a.m. and allegedly struck a pedestrian walking near the annual Christmas Bazaar at the town community center.
The male pedestrian fell into another pedestrian, who fell while carrying an infant, said Sheriff Steve Nowlin.
The infant suffered a head injury and was taken to Southwest Memorial Hospital, then to Children’s Hospital Colorado, Nowlin said. The baby has returned from the Denver hospital and is recovering, Nowlin said.
Witnesses reported Merchant, 61, had turned to avoid a parked car then struck the pedestrian. He left the scene and drove to his nearby residence, according to witnesses cited in the incident report.
Deputies contacted Merchant at his apartment. During an interview, Merchant reportedly told the deputy he had been blinded by the sun and didn’t think he had hit anyone.
Merchant also said he had taken prescribed medication before the crash, and he did not pass all parts of a sobriety test, the arrest affidavit said.
Merchant was arrested on several charges, including driving while under the influence of drugs, reckless driving, vehicular assault and an accident involving personal injuries. Formal charges by the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office are pending.
During a court hearing Dec. 11, Montezuma County Judge JennyLynn Lawrence increased Merchant’s bond to $10,000 cash at the request of District Attorney Will Furse.
Merchant also was given a protection order barring him from contacting the victims.