| News |

Lucas Ackerman, driver in fatal July 4 Grand Lake crash, has past DUI bust

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Update: Last week, we shared preliminary information about the arrest of Lucas Ackerman in a fatal crash immediately following a 4th of July fireworks display in Grand Lake; see our previous coverage below, including details about a fire following a similar July 4 event in Windsor.

Now, we know considerably more about Ackerman, including blood-alcohol-content figures immediately following the accident and his past criminal record, which includes a drunk-driving arrest.

As we've reported, five people were struck by a Ford pickup truck allegedly driven by Ackerman as they crossed Highway 34 after the conclusion of Grand Lake's renowned annual patriotic spectacular.

Survivors include Debbie Westley, 49, two females, ages nineteen and ten, and a three-year-old male, all of whom were helicoptered to Denver-area hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to serious. But Debbie's husband Greg, fifty, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Friends of the Westleys who spoke with the Denver Post described them as a close-knit family that takes RV vacations together and enjoys celebrating Halloween as a group.

Ackerman appears to have attended the fireworks extravaganza with his kin as well; while the two children who were inside his truck with him at the time of impact (along with an unidentified woman) have not been ID'd by the Colorado State Patrol, they're presumed to be his two kids, ages seven and eight.

But a police report accessed by Sky-Hi News documents some risky behavior on Ackerman's part -- specifically the pre-drive consumption of six or seven beers, which reportedly pushed his blood-alcohol level to 0.156, around twice the legal intoxication limit.

Also revealed is Ackerman's criminal past, which begins with a 1997 bust for possession and consumption of alcohol by a minor. Other marks on his record include misdemeanor assault, a harassment conviction, a guilty plea for disorderly conduct and drunk driving, for which he spent sixteen days in jail.

Ackerman made his first court appearance by video from Grand County Jail, where he was being held on a $40,000 bond. He's been charged with vehicular homicide and four counts of assault for driving under the influence of alcohol, plus child abuse and under-the-influence weapon possession.

Look below to see a 7News report about Ackerman, a larger look at his booking photo and our previous coverage.

Continue for our previous coverage of the fatal crash in Grand Lake and the Windsor fireworks-related fire, including photos and videos. Update, 10:44 a.m. July 5: Shortly after publishing information about a deadly crash following a fireworks show at Grand Lake, the Colorado State Patrol released the names of those involved in the incident. The driver of the truck has been identified as Lucas Ackerman, 33 -- and the person who died as a result of the incident was Estes Park resident Greg Westley, fifty.

Look below for details about the names and conditions of others involved, as well as information about a fire that started during another fireworks show in Windsor.

A Colorado State Patrol release suggests that Ackerman had attended the Grand Lake festivities with his family. The truck was occupied by an unidentified female and children, none of whom were injured in the incident, which took place shortly after 10 p.m. last night on Colorado Highway 34's mile marker 12 not far from Granby.

As for Ackerman, he was booked into Grand County jail on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Greg Westley was pronounced dead at the scene, the CSP reveals, while his wife, 49-year-old Debbie Westley, was flown by helicopter to Denver Health with what are described as serious injuries. A ten-year-old female was choppered to the same facility, although her injuries weren't quite as severe; they're characterized as minor to moderate. Additionally, a nineteen-year-old female and a three-year-old male were flown to Children's Hospital. Their injuries are also described as serious, but they're not thought to be life-threatening.

The CSP notes that five other children of varying ages and genders were not harmed.

Continue for our previous coverage about the Grand Lake crash and the Windsor fire.

Original post 9:50 a.m. July 5: Many localities cancelled July 4 fireworks events this year due to dry conditions and concern that the displays could inadvertently start a blaze. These fears weren't unfounded, as a fire sparked by the extravaganza in Windsor demonstrated. And while flames didn't get out of control following the Grand Lake fireworks show, something even worse took place. An alleged drunk driver hit several people, killing one person and causing a traffic jam that trapped thousands for hours. Photos, videos and details on both situations below.

The Greeley Tribune reports that the fire in Windsor started around 9:45 p.m. in an area on the north side of Windsor Lake from which the fireworks were being launched.

More details come from the Facebook page of Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue, which snuffed the conflagration in well under an hour. Accompanying this photo....

...is text that reads: "WSFR crews quickly knocked down a grass fire that was started by the fireworks show. The fire covered less than ten acres along a ditch."

The circumstances in Grand Lake were longer lasting and more tragic -- although things started out festive. One attendee tweeted the following photo of the community's justly renowned patriotic salute....

...and another shared this Vine:

Afterward, however, disaster struck. At around 10:30 p.m., according to 9News, a 2006 Ford pickup truck struck five pedestrians between the ages of three and 48 as they attempted to cross Highway 34 at Trail Ridge Marina.

Here's a photo from the scene from 9News:

One person died as a result of the crash, but that's all we know so far. Here's the latest tweet on the subject from the Colorado State Patrol:

The 33-year-old driver of the truck is reportedly in police custody right now, and alcohol is said to be a possible factor in the tragedy.

Meanwhile, the accident, emergency response and subsequent inquiry prevented a huge number of attendees from getting home when they expected. Here's a tweet about what happened from CBS4's Rob McClure:

Victims were helicoptered out within thirty minutes after the crash, but it took until well after midnight for the highway to be cleared. It's now reopened, but law enforcers are looking into what went wrong on a 4th of July that will be remembered in Grand Lake for all the wrong reasons.

More from our Things to Do archive: "Update: 4th of July fireworks cancellations."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.