Delta County deputies responding to a crash near Dominguez Canyon Road on Sunday found a distraught woman bleeding from the mouth, who alleged her on-again, off-again boyfriend had assaulted her and forced her to drive him down U.S. 50, before jerking the steering wheel to wreck the car.
Delta County Sheriff Mark Taylor said Nathan Zabel was arrested on suspicion of first-degree kidnapping, false imprisonment, reckless endangerment, third-degree assault, misdemeanor menacing and harassment. His bond was later set at $150,000. A court date for Zabel was not immediately available.
Taylor said several people pulled over upon spotting the wreck Sunday morning and witnesses told dispatchers that a man at the scene, later alleged to be Zabel, was “combative.” Witnesses also said a woman associated with the wrecked 2005 Avalon was frantically asking for help.
Deputies found her shaking, with blood coming from her mouth and face, while Zabel was lying on his back north of the crashed car, complaining he was hurt, Taylor said. Both received medical care.
Zabel did not make a statement about the events, except to ask for an attorney, the sheriff said.
The woman told deputies she had gone to pick up Zabel after his own vehicle broke down near Bridgeport in Mesa County. After she arrived, they began arguing, which escalated as they drove south.
The Avalon then began experiencing mechanical problems and she pulled over.
Zabel allegedly assaulted the woman, and took the keys from her. When she got out and tried to flag down passersby, he allegedly forced her back into the car and made her drive away. Taylor said the woman didn’t know what else to do but comply, and try to reach a police station.
But as they neared the turn by Dominguez Canyon Road, Zabel allegedly grabbed the steering wheel, causing the crash.
“Not only did he put himself in danger, but also (the woman) and other people on the road,” Taylor said.