Douglas County Judge Ryan J. Stuart sentenced James McDonald, 33, to 12 years in prison for a deadly crash on I-25 near the Douglas County Courthouse in Castle Rock.
On the afternoon of November 18, 2022, Colorado State Patrol responded to a single car rollover crash on northbound I-25 near exit 184. Troopers found a 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer on its side in a drainage ditch along the interstate.
The investigation revealed McDonald, the driver, was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic before losing control of his car and crashing into a guardrail. After colliding with the guardrail, the car went airborne and rolled before landing on its side in a ditch. While the vehicle was airborne, the backseat passenger was thrown from the car.
McDonald and his two passengers were taken to Sky Ridge Medical Center for medical treatment. Several hours later, the backseat passenger who was thrown from the vehicle ultimately passed away from her injuries.
McDonald was charged with Vehicular Homicide, a class 4 felony and Speeding, a class 2 traffic offense.
Accident reconstruction technology revealed prior to the crash, McDonald was traveling over 100 mph in a 65 mph posted speed zone. Investigators were also able to obtain a pre-crash data report from the car’s airbag module system which documented speeds in excess of 106 mph prior to the airbags deploying. Witnesses on-scene reported the car was traveling at a high rate of speed prior to the crash.
McDonald and his front seat passenger had seatbelts on. The investigation uncovered the backseat passenger was not wearing her seatbelt.
“This tragedy was 100-percent preventable,” Deputy District Attorney Keegan Doheney said. “This defendant’s selfish actions put the lives of everyone in that car in danger. It’s a miracle no one else was killed.”
Following a 3-day jury trial, McDonald was found guilty of Vehicle Homicide and Speeding. He received the maximum prison sentence allowed under Colorado law.
“There was no logical reason this defendant needed to endanger his passengers and other innocent motorists on I-25 by driving more than 40 mph over the posted speed limit,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Doug Bechtel said. “While no prison sentence can replace the sudden loss of a loved one, I hope this maximum sentence can bring some closure to the victim’s family.”
To report a dangerous or aggressive driver to Colorado State Patrol, dial *277.