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RANGELY | Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Madden has filed a formal “Notice of Claim” with RBC Attorney Kent Borchard claiming $150,000 in damages for an ATV incident he was involved in on June 18, 2017.
The Notice of Claim, which is the first step in a potential lawsuit, states, “Our client, Mr. Brian Madden, suffered injuries and damages due to the failure of the county to maintain, post, warn of dangers, and otherwise.” At this time no official lawsuit has been filed.
According to the letter sent by Madden’s attorney, Sander Karp, Madden was traveling south on County Road 103 near the intersection with County Road 70 at 7 p.m. when he ran into a gate that had been erected across the road. The letter claims that Madden was “thrown in excess of 50 feet from his ATV and the ATV became entangled in the barbed wire…” The letter also claims that there were no signs warning of the presence of the fence.
RBC Sheriff’s Deputy Jarrod Lang responded to the wreck. According to the incident report, Madden stated he was driving approximately 45 mph when the wreck occurred. The maximum speed limit for ATVs on all county roads is 35 mph. Pictures taken by the investigating deputy show a 2009 Colorado Parks and Wildlife registration sticker, potentially making the ATV registration eight years expired. No tickets were issued.
The incident report completed by Deputy Lang says, “He [Madden] stated that he had been in the area many times and there had never been a gate across county road 103 before. I told him that I too did not remember a gate crossing the road at this location.” RBC Sheriff Anthony Mazzola stated that current standard procedure would be to request that the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) handle the investigation due to Madden’s status as a deputy. However, because the accident involved an ATV instead of a highway motor vehicle CSP was not called in. At the time of the wreck, off road vehicle incidents were covered by a different county policy and were processed through a Colorado Parks and Wildlife form, not as a motor vehicle incident. According to Mazzola, at the time of the incident it was unusual for CSP to handle cases involving ATVs unless on a state highway. “In hindsight State Patrol should’ve handled this,” he said.
Following the accident, the policies regarding ATV incidents on county roads were changed and now require that they be handled as motor vehicle incidents.
Madden was unable to be reached for comment.
Since 2008 the county has made an effort to slowly reduce the number of gates across county roads, replacing them with cattle guards. There are currently 39 gates in Rio Blanco which cross county roads, down from 62 in 2008. Most of the gates have been in existence for decades and may be found open or closed depending on the season and potential livestock in the area. Each cattle guard purchased to replace a gate costs $6,000 and will require occasional cleaning and maintenance.