The longtime valley resident who was struck and killed by a truck in August in Basalt, leading to a vehicular homicide charge, had a blood-alcohol level over three times the legal limit to drive, the Pitkin County Coroner’s Office said Thursday in a press release.
Michael Campion, 54, on Aug. 24 was trying to cross Highway 82 near Basalt Avenue to catch a bus to his Aspen Village home after he had dinner in Basalt, police have said, citing his friends.
He was pronounced dead at the scene after being hit by a Ford F250 pickup allegedly driven by Christopher Fish, 49. Fish also faces a felony charge of failing to remain on the scene of a fatal accident. He told police that he saw a person running across the highway from his left to his right and could not stop in time, a state patrol trooper wrote in an arrest affidavit. “He stated he was in the left lane traveling at 45 mph.”
Fish wrote the same thing in his driver’s statement, the affidavit says, adding Fish “stated he coasted to a stop because he was in shock.” The trooper, however, wrote that he believed the truck was so damaged that it could no longer being driven. Police contacted Fish about a mile from the accident scene.
The affidavit also notes that the trooper smelled alcohol and marijuana when Fish’s passenger opened a door on the truck. But a breath test he took 40 minutes after the accident showed no alcohol in his system. According to the affidavit, however, Fish failed roadside sobriety maneuvers, a marijuana pipe and two vape-style devices were found in the truck, and Basalt police officer Aaron Munch, after performing a “drug recognition evaluation,” told the state trooper that he believed Fish was under the influence of cannabis.
Fish allowed the trooper to search the vehicle, which contained two bottles of beer allegedly along with the pipe and vape devices. The defendant said he had smoked marijuana around 5 p.m. that day, telling the trooper he uses it for anxiety, the affidavit says.
Thursday’s press release says Campion had a blood-alcohol level of 251 mg/dl. For reference the blood level of alcohol in Colorado for establishing DUI is 80 mg/dl, the press release says.
The cause of death was multisystem trauma and was instant, and the manner of death is classified as homicide, according to the release.