Man accused of vehicular homicide in bicyclist's death

Tyler Hilton

Vehicular homicide is alleged in the death of a man who was riding his bike near North Townsend Avenue and North Seventh Street on Monday morning.

Christopher Blunt, 22, died at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. His official cause and manner of death were pending Tuesday, but an arrest affidavit filed on Tyler Jay Hilton, the alleged driver, indicates Blunt sustained severe head trauma.

Hilton, 18, was being held on the vehicular homicide allegation, as well as on suspicion of leaving the scene of an injury crash; careless driving causing death; driving under the influence; traffic offenses (weaving and passing on the right) and the underage consumption of alcohol and possession of marijuana.

Formal charges are pending. Bond was $60,000 upon arrest; he was due in court this afternoon, at which time, bond could be modified.

According to police, Hilton was driving his SUV down Townsend Avenue shortly before 6 a.m. Monday, where a witness saw his vehicle swerving repeatedly before the SUV passed the witness at a high speed.

The witness observed the vehicle try to pass another car on the right side of the road, then saw a man on a bike between the curb and another vehicle in the outer lane of travel.

The witness then saw the collision, which sent the rider over the top of the car, and into the middle of the road.

Another witness later told police that she also saw the vehicle strike Blunt and that the collision knocked him into the right rear window of her car. She immediately pulled over and saw the suspect vehicle speed off, the affidavit says.

Hilton allegedly fled the crash and returned to his home, where he at first told his mother he had hit a deer, per the affidavit.

When she learned otherwise, Hilton’s mother contacted dispatch and said she was bringing him back to the scene.

Hilton allegedly told Montrose Police Sgt. Courtney Jones he had been unable to move over because there was a car on his left and that although he slammed on his brakes, he hit Blunt, then panicked.

“I’m 18 years old, I don’t know what to (expletive) do, I’m like, I gotta get out of here, like (expletive), bro,” Jones alleged Hilton told her.

Jones said Hilton repeatedly said “snitches get stitches,” and when asked what he meant, Hilton said he was angry that his mother contacted police because he didn’t want to get arrested.

Hilton allegedly admitted to drinking with the words: “Yeah, I’m drunk, I won’t lie. I’m like six beers in.”

According to allegations in the affidavit, Hilton later told police that when he got back to his home, he had gotten on top of his vehicle’s hood and stomped on the windshield “because he was angry as to why people (the bicyclist) were being ‘(stupid) like that. I was like, what the (expletive), it’s 8 o’clock in the morning, what are you doing?’”

Jones said Hilton then said he thought Blunt was responsible for the crash and he should have been driving on the correct side of the road.

Hilton consented to sobriety testing, which Jones concluded he failed. Because she believed he was also under the influence of something other than alcohol, she inquired and Hilton allegedly admitted to marijuana use.

He then consented to blood draws at the hospital. Hilton was treated to cuts to his hand, which he said he received by punching his windshield, according to the affidavit.

Jones described Hilton’s behavior at the hospital as rude and antagonistic, particularly toward hospital staff and Officer Taylor Deines.

Other officers impounded Hilton’s vehicle, which was later searched with his consent. They reported finding marijuana paraphernalia and “dabs” in the vehicle.

Blunt was taken to Montrose Memorial Hospital, then to St. Mary’s. Monday afternoon, Blunt’s wife gave Jones the news the police had feared: Blunt had succumbed to his injuries.

The police on Tuesday urged motorists to be cautious.

“We know since schools have been closed, there is the possibility of school-age kids being out and about in our community,” Cmdr. Matt Smith said. “We want to highlight to the motoring public to just be vigilant.”

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

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