A Durango woman suspected of rear-ending a motorcyclist and killing him last month on Colorado Highway 3 told police she smoked marijuana 5½ hours before the crash.
No charges have been filed against Michelle Northcutt for the June 6 crash. Prosecutors said last week they are still working the case.
The family of Tim Cooper said they are growing frustrated by the delay and lack of answers from police and prosecutors.
“We’re very unhappy with it because nobody seems to know anything,” said Vicki Taylor, Tim Cooper’s sister. “It’s very frustrating, because it doesn’t look like anything is going to happen now. And none of us know what to do about it.”
District Attorney Todd Risberg said Friday he’s waiting for additional reports from the Durango Police Department, but he declined to be more specific about what evidence is being collected or the time frame for filing charges, if any.
“Sometimes it takes a while to get all the information we need,” Risberg said. “I sure feel bad for the family. That’s such a horrible thing to have happen. We’ll collect all the information and make the best decision we can.”
The Durango Police Department did not respond Friday to a request for comment.
Cooper, 52, of La Plata County, died June 6 after being struck from behind by a woman driving a Toyota SUV south on Colorado Highway 3, near the Walmart intersection. The motorcycle was pushed into an F-150 Ford pickup, also stopped at the light waiting to turn left onto South Camino del Rio. The motorcycle burst into flames upon impact.
Northcutt, 51, was seen weaving before the crash. The driving behavior was apparently so unusual that a man driving behind her shot a short video using Snapchat. It shows half the width of the Land Cruiser over the right shoulder line for about six seconds before drifting back into the driving lane.
The witness told police he thought the driver was drunk or sleepy, because “she was all over the road.” She crossed the center line and the white fog line “a few times,” he said. The driver appeared to be holding her head in her left hand, he told police.
A traffic diagram shows Northcutt crossed the double-yellow center line moments before the impact before swerving back into her own lane immediately before hitting Cooper. The Toyota Land Cruiser then made it all the way around the passenger side of another vehicle stopped at the light.
“I was driving south – guessed everyone stopped,” she told police at the scene, according to the police report.
A man who answered her home phone Saturday said, “not interested,” and hung up in response to a request for comment.
According to an accident report, Northcutt admitted to taking an anti-depressant at 10 the night before the crash and smoking marijuana at 5 a.m. the morning of the crash. She said she went back to bed after consuming three or four “hits” of marijuana. The crash occurred at 10:26 a.m.
Durango police officers had Northcutt perform roadside maneuvers to test for sobriety, but they didn’t find any obvious signs of impairment, according to accident reports. She appeared in shock and spoke a little “thick tongued,” Cpl. Bryan Heaton wrote in his report.
Heaton said he pushed a button to activate his dashboard camera to record Northcutt’s roadside maneuvers, but he later found the camera didn’t record anything.
Police also analyzed Northcutt’s cellphone to see if she was talking, texting or using data services before the crash, but there was no indication she was using her phone at the time of the crash or in the moments leading up to impact.
Wyatt Cooper, son of Tim Cooper, said he doesn’t understand why Northcutt wasn’t given more tests after she admitted to smoking pot the morning of the crash. If someone drank two beers and killed a dog, they would be arrested, he said. “But apparently, if you kill someone and you admit to being high, they won’t take you in.”