Breckenridge woman pleads innocent in hit-and-run case
Breckenridge resident Hallie Schmitt pleaded not guilty to three charges related to a hit-and-run accident during a Tuesday, May 26, disposition hearing. For her first appearance in court, Schmitt turned down a plea bargain from Fifth Judicial Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle that could have cut potential jail time in half.
Schmitt, 24, pleaded innocent to charges of failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury, a class 4 felony, vehicular assault, a class 5 felony, and failure to report an accident, a class 1 misdemeanor. Her bond remains at $7,500.
If found guilty of failing to remain at the scene of the accident, Schmitt would face two to six years of prison and three years of mandatory parole.
Prindle’s plea agreement was based on the class 5 charge of vehicular assault, which would have instead resulted in one to three years of prison and two years’ parole.
“Some people, just for different reasons, feel that they’re innocent,” Prindle said. “Some people feel that we don’t have enough evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Breckenridge Police identified Schmitt as a suspect when her vehicle matched the description of the SUV that hit Summit County resident Laura Hamilton on Friday, Dec. 26.
Detective Alex Blank matched debris from the scene that was determined to belong to a Toyota 4Runner limited edition V8, before he later saw Schmitt driving her vehicle with damage to the front end.
A snowplow driver reportedly found 23-year-old Hamilton that night, partly on Airport Road and partly in a snow bank, before Red, White and Blue Fire Rescue was called to the scene at 11:25 p.m.
Battling the bills
Hamilton was released from the St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco that month, after being treated for fractured vertebrae, a fractured femur, a large gash on her leg and a major concussion.
“I was continuing physical therapy, but I stopped for about a month because I couldn’t pay for it,” Hamilton said. “I’m still fighting it.”
She added that she would face surgery for a recently torn ACL and MCL in her right leg, in addition to testing for a potential head injury.
A friend of Hamilton reported that she still has no memory of the incident.
“She’s been doing better, but her memory’s still kinda messed up,” she said.
Kim Organ, a family friend, said she had previously set up a Wells Fargo Fund to help cover Hamilton’s medical and living expenses. The fund is now closed, but Organ said it initially raised a little more than $1,200.
“My family had to pay for everything while I was out there. I don’t know how I could do it without them,” said Hamilton, an employee of Vail Resorts at Breckenridge Sports on Peak 8.
She added that she had not yet received any restitution from Schmitt; neither of the two women have met.
“It was a terrible accident,” said defense attorney Todd Barson. “The only thing Hallie cares about in this case is Laura’s recuperation.”
Fifth Judicial District Judge Mark Thompson set a trial date for Oct. 6 through Oct. 8, starting at 8:30 a.m. Schmitt will next appear in court for a pretrial conference on Sept. 15 at 1 p.m.
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