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Boulder DA: Christopher Loven to be charged in cyclist death

The Daily Camera: Boulder DA: Christopher Loven to be charged in Lefthand cyclist death

Dump truck driver faces charge of careless driving resulting in death

By Erica Meltzer, Camera Staff Writer
Posted: 11/18/2011 

The driver of a dump truck who struck and killed a cyclist in Lefthand Canyon in June will be charged with careless driving resulting in death, a misdemeanor, Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said Friday.

Christopher G. Loven was driving a Kenworth W900 dump truck hauling a trailer with construction equipment west on Lefthand Canyon Drive on June 17 when he turned left to go south on Olde Stage Road and collided with Eugene "Phil" Howrey, 73, of Boulder.

Howrey was thrown 39 feet and died at the scene.

A Colorado State Patrol investigation into the fatal accident had languished -- along with nearly two dozen other probes into crashes that resulted in death or serious injury -- due to a backlog in District 6, which includes Boulder and Broomfield counties.

Investigators began a detailed investigation into the accident that killed Howrey in late October. Garnett said his office received the results of the investigation this week.

"The investigative report is quite extensive," Garnett said. "After carefully reviewing the report, I have concurred with the recommendation of my staff that Christopher Loven be charged with careless driving resulting in death."

The State Patrol investigation report concludes that no drugs, alcohol, speeding or aggressive driving were involved in the accident. The speed limit in the area is 35 mph. The report said Loven was driving about 20 mph, while Howrey was riding between 25 and 35 mph.

A tree on the west side of Lefthand Canyon near the intersection partially obstructs the view of the road ahead and may have contributed to the crash, the report said. The tree was cut down several months ago.

However, the State Patrol investigator concluded that Loven should have been driving more slowly to account for the road conditions and the difficulty of maneuvering the large truck and its loaded trailer.

"Although Christopher G. Loven was not legally required to stop before turning left onto Olde Stage Road, he was required to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic," the report said. "In this case, he should have stopped or made that turn at a lower speed. If he had shown due regard for the road and traffic conditions, the crash would not have happened."

Investigators said driving just 5 mph slower would have significantly reduced the truck's stopping distance and may have prevented the accident.

The report concludes that Loven did not hurt Howrey "intentionally," but he drove in a "careless and imprudent manner."

Loven has a history of confrontations with area cyclists, including a high-profile 2009 incident in which Loven pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment.

Loven could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.