Law enforcement officials may take another week before releasing information about how local professional cyclist Benjamin Sonntag died after colliding with a driver last week near Marvel.
Law enforcement agencies are coordinating with the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to consider charges against 19-year-old Durango resident Cordell Schneider, the driver of a 1991 Ford Ranger that crashed March 4 with Sonntag while he was riding his Specialized Tarmac road bicycle, Colorado State Patrol Capt. Adrian Driscoll said in an interview Friday.
Sonntag and Schneider crashed head-on on County Road 105 in southwest La Plata County. Sonntag died at the scene.
“The pickup truck traveled off the right side of the road, colliding with a fence, continuing through a field and driving off an embankment before coming to rest on its right side in Cherry Creek,” the State Patrol said last week in a news release.
Investigators expect to release a crash report about the State Patrol’s investigation late next week, Driscoll said.
It might take months for officials to release detailed information about the collision, said Nathan Rose, CEO and principal accident reconstructionist at Luminous Forensics, based in Green Village.
Collisions between bicycles and vehicles are unique in crash reconstruction, Rose said. Crash reconstruction often requires physical analysis of momentum, and the light weight of a cyclist makes it difficult to determine how fast a cyclist or driver was moving, he said.
But even if investigators knew the motion and speeds of the bicycle and truck, they might not know why the crash happened, Rose said.
“That’s what everyone wants to know,” he said. “That’s even a step removed from the evidence.”
Furthermore, law enforcement wants to make sure it releases accurate information.
“The officers who are investigating this, they likely know that people want answers,” Rose said. “They want to make sure the answers they give are justified, well-founded in evidence, and they’re going take their time to try.”
A memorial service for Sonntag is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Columba Catholic Church followed by the celebration of life at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. At 2:30 p.m., guests will be invited to take the microphone to share memories, stories and thoughts about Sonntag, whose family traveled to Durango from Germany to attend.
At 10 a.m. Sunday, the community also is invited for a bike parade in downtown Durango. It will start at the Durango Transit Center and ride to Buckley Park, where there will be another gathering to celebrate Sonntag.
More than 300 people are expected at the reception – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Friday banned gatherings of more than 250 people in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.