Lisa Norton, hit & swim driver in fatal Gabriel Nielsen crash: DUI beefs, pot in truck (VIDEO)
The case of Lisa Norton, who's accused of trying to swim away from a fatal accident she allegedly caused, keeps getting more bizarre. Authorities now confirm that she was sentenced to probation for DUI last Thursday, just two days before the crash that killed Gabriel Nielsen -- and cops, who already suspect her of driving drunk, found marijuana in her truck.
Norton's earlier DUI arrest took place in March. She reportedly was pulled over near North Foothills Parkway and Longhorn Road by a deputy who noticed she was weaving. She stopped, but as the deputy approached on foot, she took off again, prompting a brief chase -- and she wasn't exactly cooperative after being reeled in a second time. Hence, her sentence last week to twelve months' probation for DUI. Charges of illegal lane changes, eluding a police officer, resisting arrest and another DUI were dropped due to her guilty plea, even though she'd also been convicted of drunk driving back in 2006, according to the Denver Post.
Not that there appears to have been any lesson-learning involved. Two days later, Norton was behind the wheel of her Ford Ranger pickup -- a no-no, given that her license had been revoked -- when she was part of a non-injury accident on Nelson Road. But instead of stopping, she kept going -- a decision that would prove horrific. Further down Nelson, she is said to have crossed the center line, smashing into a Nissan that contained Nielsen, 33, his sister Cherish Francis, 24, and his daughter Avery, age two.
Nielsen died at the scene, while Francis suffered a broken arm and ribs and young Avery wound up with multiple skull fractures and remains in critical condition.
In contrast, Norton was able to leave her truck under her own power and immediately headed to the edge of a nearby reservoir -- the apparent idea being that she would swim to freedom. She denied to boaters who eventually fished her out of the water that she was involved in the accident, but the Longmont cops waiting for her at the dock didn't buy that. They describe her as combative and verbally abusive while being taken into custody.
Oh yeah: Inside her truck, cops found a glass pipe and a bag of marijuana -- although they suspect alcohol was a significant factor in the crash.
At present, Norton remains behind bars on $1 million bail. She won't be driving again anytime soon. Look below for a larger version of her mug shot and our earlier coverage.
Original item, 9:08 a.m. June 27: We've all heard about hit-and-run accidents -- but a hit-and-swim accident? According to the Colorado State Patrol, that's what happened in the case of Lisa Norton, who may have been driving on a suspended license when she allegedly caused an accident that killed Gabriel Nielsen and injured two others, including a two-year-old child.
Just last Thursday, a woman also named Lisa Norton was reportedly sentenced to twelve months probation in Boulder County for driving while ability impaired. But if she's the same person, this punishment didn't prevent her from getting back behind the wheel only two days later.
On Saturday, Norton was piloting a Ford Ranger pickup that was part of a non-injury accident on Nelson Road. But instead of stopping to assess the damage, she continued driving. She was headed eastbound on Nelson near the intersection of 63rd Avenue just after 6:30 p.m. when the truck cropped the center line and smashed into a Nissan coupe driven by Nielsen, 33. Also inside: Cherish Francis, 24, and the aforementioned two-year-old.
Nielsen died at the scene, while Francis and the child were transported first to Longmont United Hospital and later to Denver Health Medical Center with serious injuries.
And Norton? She was still in good enough shape to walk away from the truck -- but instead of racing to check on the occupants of the Nissan, she moved toward a nearby reservoir. As she was about to climb in, KWGN reports, a boater asked if she'd been part of the accident -- and she said, "No" in a manner that suggested she wasn't totally coherent. She then started to swim, but the boater and her husband picked her up and took her to their dock. There, representatives of the Longmont Police Department were waiting.
Norton is now staring at a vehicular manslaughter count -- and more allegations could be on the way. Look below to see the aforementioned video.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.