CRIME

Pueblo man headed to trial for alleged DUI crash that killed Cañon City teen

Justin Reutter
The Pueblo Chieftain

The vehicular homicide case against a Pueblo man accused of causing the death of a Cañon City teenager will proceed toward trial.

Phillip Cassares, 27, of Pueblo, faces a charge of vehicular homicide-DUI, a Class 3 felony, in the death of 18-year-old Ashton Welch.

Cassares, who was allegedly driving a Chevrolet K1500 pickup truck at the time of the crash, is accused of rear-ending and rolling over Welch's 2013 Subaru Impreza, killing Welch, on the evening of Nov. 14, 2022.

The crash occurred at the intersection of South Pueblo Boulevard and Red Creek Springs Road about 10 p.m., according to a police affidavit obtained by the Chieftain.

Based on gouge marks and damage to the involved vehicles, it appeared that the Subaru was stopped at a red light on the south side of the intersection and was rear-ended by the Chevrolet, according to the affidavit. The two passenger side tires of the Chevrolet reportedly drove up and over the top of the Subaru. The Chevrolet then rolled onto its driver side and slid some distance before rolling onto its passenger side and coming to rest.

Witnesses told police that they had seen the Subaru stopped at the intersection facing northbound in the left thru-lane when the Chevrolet struck it, driving at a high rate of speed before the collision. This was confirmed later by security camera footage of the incident from a nearby Loaf n' Jug.

Several alcohol containers were found among the debris leading to the Chevrolet, according to police.

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The affidavit also notes that police interviewed Cassares at the hospital following the crash. Officer Ryan Neece said a strong odor of alcohol was coming from Cassares. Neece also noted his eyes were bloodshot and watery, and his face flushed. His speech was "mumbling and thick tongued," and his mannerisms fumbling and exaggerated.

Neece informed Cassares he was under arrest on suspicion of DUI, and Cassares refused chemical testing to test his blood alcohol level. However, Neece authored a search warrant requesting a blood draw for testing. Cassares' blood tested at a blood alcohol level of .127, far over the legal intoxication level of .08, according to the affidavit.

Welch was pronounced dead in the operating room at Parkview Hospital after suffering severe internal injuries, including multiple lacerations to internal organs, according to a local doctor cited in the affidavit. Welch also suffered an upper cervical spine dislocation and bruising on the brain.

These type of injuries are often caused by a drastic change in velocity to the human body, according to the affidavit.

A pretrial-readiness conference is scheduled for May 19 in the case, after 10th Judicial District Judge Amiel Markenson ruled Wednesday there is sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial.

All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until, and unless, a suspect is convicted of a crime.

Questions, comments, or story tips? Contact Justin at jreutterma@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @jayreutter1