Case dismissed against elderly driver

May 20, 2015

  A judge has dropped charges against an elderly man who caused a fatal car crash last summer on Highway 82. Aspen Public Radio’s Carolyn Sackariason reports.

89-year-old John Walls of Carbondale was charged with careless driving causing death, a result of an accident that killed Basalt resident Patrick Dunn. Dunn was on his motorcycle when Walls crossed into the westbound lane and hit him head on with his car.

He was deemed incompetent by the state and after months of legal wrangling, a judge last month appointed his son as his guardian. That paved the way for the case to be dismissed.

Walls could not understand the proceedings in Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely’s courtroom Tuesday, despite using the court’s headphones. The judge told the family this is the best outcome under the circumstances.

Charlie Hendricks is Walls’ son and guardian.

“It’s been very painful for all of us, especially Mr. Dunn’s family too. We’re glad this has finally come to an end. We’re very sorry it had to happen at all or that it did happen and we are going to do everything in our power to make sure Jack is taken care of,” he says.

Walls can never own a vehicle or drive again. He is allowed to live in his home but will have to submit a home safety evaluation. He will also receive daily health care checks, paid for by Medicaid.

As a young professional, Walls was an architect who designed buildings in Aspen, including the courthouse annex. He also served on City Council. Carolyn Sackariason, Aspen Public Radio news.