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Durango driver formally charged in connection with hitting, killing bicyclist

Affidavit: Lorenzo Jones tried to cover up his involvement before confessing

A Durango man suspected of hitting and killing a bicyclist while drunken driving has been formally charged with vehicular homicide-DUI and leaving the scene of a crash involving death.

Jones

Lorenzo Jones, 19, faces a presumptive range of four to 12 years in prison if convicted of drunken driving causing death, but he remains eligible for probation.

He made a brief appearance Friday in 6th Judicial District Court, where he waived his right for formal reading of the charges.

District Judge Todd Norvell is overseeing the case.

Jones is accused of hitting and killing 49-year-old Scott Gallagher, who was a fire training captain with Durango Fire Protection District.

The crash was reported at 2:22 a.m. Aug. 7 near Aspen Drive and Florida Road.

When police arrived, they found a blue Ford Crown Victoria abandoned in the road with a bicycle under the front bumper and Gallagher’s body through the front windshield of the vehicle, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police ran the license plate of the abandoned vehicle through dispatch and learned it belonged to Jones. Officers made multiple attempts to contact Jones by telephone, but the calls were forwarded to voicemail.

At about 7:30 a.m., Jones attempted to contact the responding officer, but the officer was no longer on duty. Instead, a detective returned Jones’ phone call, and Jones said he wanted to report his car stolen, according to the affidavit. He also told police he was involved in a fight the previous night at a bar downtown.

“At this time, I immediately suspected that Jones was attempting to create a false story to separate himself from being involved with his vehicle the evening of 08/06/22 and early morning hours of 08/07/22,” the detective wrote in his affidavit. “By stating that he was involved in a disturbance downtown, I believe Jones was attempting to fabricate a false explanation for the injuries he knew officers were inevitably going to discover as a result of the accident.”

Police went to Jones’ home on Durango’s South Side, where Jones met with officers in a parking lot.

Jones told officers he got off work from his restaurant job about 11:15 or 11:30 p.m. and met up with friends in downtown Durango. He said he got into “a little tussle” with some people outside a bar, but he wasn’t sure exactly which bar, according to the affidavit.

He admitted to drinking two or three shots of tequila outside one of the bars. Officers said that didn’t seem like enough to become blackout drunk, and Jones said he doesn’t drink at all, implying two or three shots was enough to cause him to reach a blackout level of intoxication, according to the affidavit.

Jones said he couldn’t remember other details of the evening, but said he got a ride home and returned home about 12:30 or 1 a.m. He said he couldn’t remember who gave him a ride home.

Police asked Jones how his vehicle was stolen, and he said, “That’s what I want to know.” He said his keys were inside a book bag that was inside his vehicle, which was parked at his home.

While speaking with Jones, police detected an odor of alcohol coming from him. But Jones declined to submit to a preliminary breath test. He said he didn’t have anything to drink or smoke after arriving home from the downtown area, according to the affidavit.

Jones had injuries that were consistent with someone involved in a car crash, according to the affidavit. He had a fresh cut above his left wrist, a small cut above his right eyebrow, and small red specks and cuts as if peppered with small shards of glass, according to the detective’s observations. His right eye was nearly swollen shut.

Police then explained the situation involving his vehicle.

“When I advised Jones that a cyclist was killed in the accident, he did not have any sort of reaction and just stared at me for several seconds,” the detective wrote in his affidavit. Jones asked if police had any suspects, and the detective told Jones he believed his suspect was standing in front of him.

Jones responded by saying, “I think not,” according to the affidavit.

Police told Jones they thought he was being untruthful and his injuries were inconsistent with someone who had been in a fight.

Jones eventually exclaimed, “OK. OK. I’ll just be honest. (Expletive!)” according to the affidavit.

At that time, Jones said he was “slightly intoxicated” and was driving on Florida Road when he hit the bicyclist.

“He shot right through my glass and at that point when I checked on him he was dead,” Jones said, according to the affidavit. “There was nothing I could do about it. I went home after. I went to sleep. And there was nothing I could (sic) until the morning to call you guys.”

Police took Jones to Mercy Hospital and then to the La Plata County Jail.

He is free on $25,000 bail.

His next court date is set for 10 a.m. Oct. 7.

shane@durangoherald.com

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