An Aspen man who is a member of the Crown family, which owns the Aspen Skiing Co., received four years of probation Thursday for a drunken-driving accident that injured himself and his passenger.
During an emotional hearing, Nicholas Crown Kunkler, 22, told Judge Gail Nichols of Pitkin County District Court that he was remorseful about his actions on the night of the March 16 wreck. Kunkler in June pleaded guilty to vehicular assault, a felony, and misdemeanor DUI in exchange for the deferred sentence.
Kunkler’s passenger called police around 2 a.m. to report the accident, which happened in the 100 block of McSkimming Road.
Police officer Dave Rosselot wrote that he found Kunkler and the passenger, who was holding his elbow, in a driveway. The police report says that Kunkler was covered nearly from head to toe in blood, and that he had severely cut his jaw.
Kunkler, who had an odor of alcohol and bloodshot eyes, told the officer that he had been driving a 2003 BMW SUV, the report says.
Both people were immediately rushed by ambulance to Aspen Valley Hospital.
The SUV went airborne for about 65 feet after Kunkler missed a curve and drove off the road, Rosselot’s report says. The vehicle collided with a tree and retaining wall, and had to be towed back up to the road.
“Based on the distance from where the vehicle went airborne to the location of where it came to rest, I formed the opinion that the vehicle had greatly exceeded the posted speed limit of 25 mph,” Rosselot wrote.
An AVH doctor later told police that both Kunkler and the passenger had suffered serious injuries, leading to an involuntary blood draw for Kunkler while he was being treated, as well as the vehicular assault charge. His blood-alcohol level was not listed in court records.
Kunkler’s passenger has retained civil attorney Jeff Wertz of Aspen but no lawsuit has been filed.
In Thursday’s hearing, Kunkler’s substance abuse treatment provider spoke, as did Kunkler’s mother, Susan Crown, the sister of SkiCo managing partner Jim Crown.
Nichols was satisfied with the disposition of the case, said prosecutor Andrea Bryan.
“He appeared to be taking this incredibly seriously,” she said. “He was very remorseful.”
A five-day jail sentence was suspended and a careless driving count was dropped as part of the plea deal. If he stays out of trouble for four years, the charges he pleaded guilty to will not appear on his record. Nichols ordered Kunkler to continue with his treatment.