O’Connor pleads not guilty in 285 crash

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By Deborah Swearingen

The man accused of causing an Aug. 28 crash that killed a 53-year-old motorcyclist pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning and will return to court in September for a two-day jury trial.

Ian Fitzgerald O’Connor, 32, is charged with leaving the scene with death, vehicular homicide and reckless vehicular homicide, as well as a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence and several traffic infractions, including reckless driving, no proof of insurance, fictitious plates and more.

He was arrested Aug. 29 in connection with the death of Wheat Ridge resident Paul Dacko, who was riding north on U.S. 285 when O’Connor’s car reportedly collided with Dacko’s motorcycle.

The Colorado State Patrol received a call about the fatal accident at 11:07 p.m. on Aug. 28. The accident, which occurred on U.S. 285 near the C-470 underpass, involved a 2002 Mazda Protégé and a 1980 custom-built motorcycle.

According to CSP Trooper John Ziadeh, who testified in a Dec. 22 preliminary hearing, O’Connor was driving down the hill in the Protégé, which he recently purchased and hadn’t yet registered in his name. He had been at a friend’s home in Indian Hills after having drinks at the Sit N Bull Saloon on Parmalee Gulch Road, Ziadeh said.

Per courtroom testimony, O’Connor was in the left lane of northbound U.S. 285 and Dacko was in the right. O’Connor passed another vehicle and ended up changing lanes, colliding with Dacko’s motorcycle and hitting a concrete barrier. Dacko was ejected from his motorcycle and pronounced dead on scene.

After the Mazda struck Dacko’s motorcycle, it continued approximately 400 feet while pushing the motorcycle underneath. Officials say O’Connor then fled the scene of the accident. He was found more than an hour later at the Phillips 66 gas station in Morrison. Ziadeh said a victim advocate with Lakewood spotted O’Connor at the gas station and noticed he had wounds consistent with the accident.

O’Connor was transported to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood with minor injuries and officially arrested on Aug. 29. A blood draw at the hospital confirmed O’Connor’s blood-alcohol content was 0.21 percent, well over Colorado’s legal limit of 0.08 percent. He also had 6.1 nanograms of THC, the active component in marijuana, in his system.

He was booked into the Jeffco Jail on Aug. 29 and posted $100,000 bond the following day. Despite posting bond, O’Connor currently is in custody due to new charges being filed.