BRECKENRIDGE - A man accused of driving his car into a Summit Stage bus, injuring his girlfriend and two children who were on the bus, pleaded guilty Monday to vehicular assault.
Joshua Pierce, 32, also entered a guilty plea to two counts of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors dropped four other charges, including one count of attempted murder.
"We feel that the plea agreement in this case achieves both the necessity of holding the defendant accountable and accommodating the victim's needs in recovery," Deputy District Attorney Anne Francis stated.
Pierce was reportedly fighting with his on-again, off-again girlfriend when his car veered across Highway 6 and crashed into a Summit Stage bus in May.
His girlfriend suffered several broken bones, a torn aorta and internal damage in the collision and had to be airlifted to a Front Range hospital. A 3-year-old and a 15-year-old, both passengers on the bus, were injured as well.
Pierce was charged with the attempted murder of his girlfriend after footage from a surveillance camera on the bus showed Pierce appearing to intentionally drive his vehicle into the bus, according to an arrest affidavit.
Officers who contacted Pierce at the hospital after the accident said he also told them he drove his car into the bus on purpose in the midst of an argument with his girlfriend, the affidavit states.
But defense attorney Todd Barson said Monday the crash was an accident.
"(The victim) was contacted and she's made her intent known from the beginning, that this was just an accident," Barson told Judge Mark Thompson at a hearing for the plea agreement. "This didn't involve reckless or even careless behavior. It was just an accident based on the mental state of Mr. Pierce."
Pierce had not slept in more than seven days prior to the crash, Barson said.
The victim reportedly told prosecutors she wanted the case dropped entirely.
Pierce was initially charged with first-degree assault, attempt to commit murder in the second-degree and endangering public transportation, all class 3 felonies.
If convicted, he would have faced 10-32 years in prison for both the first-degree assault and attempted murder charges and 4-16 years for endangering public transportation.
Charging documents characterize the crimes pertaining Pierce's girlfriend as domestic violence.
Vehicular assault carries a penalty of 1-3 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000. The defense asked for probation in court Monday.
Pierce is currently out of jail on a $50,000 bond.
A sentencing hearing is set for March 11.