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Case against driver in Jan. 29 crash with school bus dismissed following driver’s death


On Tuesday, 6th Judicial District Attorney Sean Murray confirmed the case against Bret Smith, the driver of the SUV involved in the Jan. 29 crash that included a school bus, has been dismissed due to the defendant’s death.

In March, Pagosa Springs Police Chief William Rockensock announced that Smith had been charged with careless driving causing bodily injury.

Several children from the bus were taken to Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) for minor injuries, where they were treated and released.

The two-vehicle crash left the driver of the SUV, identified as Bret Smith, 54, of Pagosa Springs, in critical condition.

The bus was transporting Pagosa Springs Elementary School students, Archuleta School District Superintendent Rick Holt indicated shortly after the crash.

According to Rockensock, there were 25 children and a driver on the bus.

Rockensock indicated in early March the Pagosa Springs Police Department (PSPD) had recently spoken with Smith regarding the crash.

According to Rockensock, Smith “made the claim” he doesn’t remember the accident or what he was doing that may have caused it, but that he stated he believes he could have fallen asleep.

Rockensock added there are no claims relating to a medical condition causing the crash, and there is no probable cause Smith was under the influence at the time of the accident.

According to a Jan. 29 press release from Rockensock, at approximately 7:24 a.m. on Jan. 29, Archuleta County Combined Dispatch initiated a call for a two-car motor vehicle accident on U.S. 160 near the intersection of Majestic Drive in the Town of Pagosa Springs.

The Pagosa Fire Protection District (PFPD), PSMC Emergency Medical Services and PSPD were dispatched to the location. 

“Initial information advised a white sport utility vehicle collided with an Archuleta County School District bus. The school bus was full of children and was off the roadway. The driver of the SUV was injured and entrapped in the vehicle,” it states. 

The driver of the SUV, the release states, had to be extricated from the vehicle by PFPD personnel.

The investigation into the collision determined the SUV was driving west on U.S. 160, drove across the center line and collided with the left front driver side of the school bus, which was driving eastbound, according to the release. 

It further states U.S. 160 was closed with the help of the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office until the accident was cleared at 9:05 a.m.

Additional information regarding the dismissal was not available by press time Wednesday.