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Two drivers, suspected to be impaired, struck two Colorado State Patrol cars Saturday morning as they were parked and responding to a crash along Interstate 270 in Adams County. One trooper was seriously injured after he tumbled off a bridge, falling 30 feet. (Photo provided by Colorado State Patrol)

A dozen Colorado State Patrol cars have been struck so far this year as troopers were parked and had their lights flashing while stopped with drivers, up from eight in 2022, according to Colorado State Patrol. 

A quarter of the crashes this year involved impaired drivers, who often drove at excessive speeds and sometimes during bad weather, Col. Matthew Packard said at a news conference Monday. 

“​​I’m asking for everybody’s help. I’m demanding it quite frankly,” Packard said. “This is what our job is: to make sure that our roads are safe so that communities can be safe and that is entirely contingent upon people making good decisions.”

His plea came days after a trooper standing outside his car responding to a crash on Interstate 270 in Adams County was seriously injured when a suspected drunk driver hit the car and the trooper tumbled over a bridge, falling 30 feet. 

The first crash happened about 3:45 a.m. Saturday when a driver in a Jeep struck a patrol car as the trooper was standing outside and no one was injured, Packard said. About 45 minutes later, a second car struck the left side of another unoccupied patrol car, causing Trooper Kevin Bagley to tumble over a bridge and land on a river bed about 30 feet below.

It took a few moments for the troopers on scene to realize Bagley had fallen off the bridge, Packard said. At the time of the crashes, three state patrol cars had emergency lights activated and flares were placed on the road to alert oncoming traffic, dashboard camera footage shows.

Bagley was significantly injured, Packard said, but “walked out of the hospital on his own two feet” Sunday morning and is resting at home. 

“We got lucky. And I’m not willing to rely on luck,” he said. “Do your job and be a responsible driver and recognize the power that you have, the ability you have, to have an influence on somebody else’s life when you have control of a car.”

The drivers who hit the parked patrol cars are facing charges for driving under the influence. Toxicology results are still pending to determine the blood alcohol content for both, Packard said. 

The second driver who hit a patrol car was treated for serious injuries at a hospital before he was booked into the Adams County jail on suspicion of vehicular assault with reckless driving and suspected impairment. 

The crashes come after a record year for traffic fatalities across the state. Last year, 745 people died on roads in Colorado — the most since 1981 — and 37% of those involved impaired driving, according to CSP.

The counties with the highest number of fatalities involving an impaired driver were Adams with 58 and El Paso and Denver with 21. Drunk and drugged drivers killed more people last year in Colorado than they have since 2002. 

Packard said he is asking all troopers to lower their tolerance for “crash-causing behaviors” and said impaired drivers should expect to be cited if pulled over by a trooper. 

“We have zero tolerance for impaired driving,” he said. “We will do everything we can to hold folks accountable that make a selfish decision to get behind the wheel of a car or get on a motorcycle or whatever else and choose to drive impaired.”

Olivia Prentzel covers breaking news and a wide range of other important issues impacting Coloradans for The Colorado Sun, where she has been a staff writer since 2021. At The Sun, she has covered wildfires, criminal justice, the environment,...