Colorado State Patrol dispatchers put on leave pending investigation |

Colorado State Patrol dispatchers put on leave pending investigation

FOUNTAIN, Colo. (AP) – Three Colorado State Patrol communications officers are on paid leave while authorities investigate a nine-minute delay in sending a trooper to a crash on Interstate 25 – a delay that was followed by a fatal crash in the same spot.

State Patrol Chief Jim Wolfinbarger said at a news conference Monday that a preliminary investigation found at least one dispatcher was “watching a Christmas movie.”

He said it’s unknown if last week’s fatal crash might have been averted if troopers had been sent immediately to the first crash.

At about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, a Mazda sedan was disabled after striking a deer on I-25 near Fountain, south of Colorado Springs, troopers said. At 1:37 a.m., the passenger reported the accident to the State Patrol and said the car was in the right traffic lane with no lights or flashers.

A trooper was dispatched at 1:46 a.m.

At 1:50 a.m., 20-year-old Heather Clinton of San Manuel, Ariz., lost control of her SUV as she approached the sedan. She and her brother were ejected. Heather Clinton died at the scene. Earl “E.J.” Clinton, 22, was hospitalized in fair condition Monday.

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