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Driver suspected of killing professional cyclist charged with a new crash

Cordell Schneider, 20, accused of crashing motorcycle, fleeing scene

A Durango man suspected of striking and killing a professional cyclist last year while driving on a rural La Plata County road has been arrested again – this time in connection with a motorcycle crash.

According to the Durango Police Department, Cordell James Schneider, 20, was driving a black 2002 Honda motorcycle in the 21600 block of U.S. Highway 160, near the Residence Inn by Marriott in west Durango, when he was involved in a single-vehicle crash.

A witness reported the crash at 1:24 p.m. July 2.

The witness provided dispatchers with a description of the motorcyclist and said he was attempting to remove it from the road and hide the motorcycle in a nearby parking lot, said Cmdr. Casey Malone with the Durango Police Department.


Police arrived to find a man matching the motorcyclist’s description, but the man attempted to flee the scene on foot, Malone said.

“He laid the motorcycle down on the roadway, tried to wheel the motorcycle off the roadway and hide it and walk away from the scene,” Malone said. “... The officer told him to stop, he told the officer, ‘No,’ and then he took off running and was chased down and he gave up a short time later.”

A bystander ran across the road and stood in front of Schneider until the officer caught up to him, Malone said. The officer then held Schneider at Taser-point until backup arrived and took him into custody, he said.

Schneider was taken to Mercy Regional Medical Center for a medical clearance and then booked into the La Plata County Jail and charged on suspicion of reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, obstructing a peace officer, driving under restraint, driving without insurance, operating an unregistered vehicle and violation of bail bond conditions, according to court records.

Efforts to reach Schneider for comment Friday were not immediately successful.

Schneider was arrested in March 2020 on suspicion of hitting and killing professional cyclist Benjamin Sonntag on County Road 105 west of Marvel, in western La Plata County.

Schneider was driving a green Ford Ranger an estimated 65 mph in a 35 mph zone southbound on the dirt road when he collided with Sonntag, who was riding his 2019 Specialized S-Works Tarmac bike northbound.

Sonntag 39, was a German national who had lived in Durango since 2007 and graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2010. The professional cyclist was sponsored by Team CLIF Bar and had most recently competed in Greece.

Schneider was charged with vehicular homicide, a felony, and reckless driving. He has pleaded not guilty.

A jury trial is scheduled to begin July 19.


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