Duckels pleads guilty for blast
Errant explosion in May damaged nearby buildings
Steamboat Springs — Fred Duckels pleaded guilty to causing a wayward dynamite blast that injured a young girl and damaged a nearby property.
Deputy District Attorney David Moffat charged Duckels, who owns Duckels Construction, with two counts of fourth-degree arson in May for setting off a dynamite blast within the third phase of the Silver Spur subdivision.
Duckels faced a felony charge because flying debris from the blast injured a 6-year-old girl. He faced a misdemeanor charge for damaging a shed owned by Ashley Gruber in the 2700 block of Moonlight Way.
Duckels pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor this week in exchange for a postponed ruling on the felony.
The felony could be dismissed if he meets certain conditions, such as performing 160 hours of useful community service and avoiding any violation of state and federal explosive law.
He has been given time to meet those conditions before he returns for his sentencing.
At the time of the dynamite blast, Duckels was clearing a trench to install water and sewer pipes in the ground. The blast sent pieces of shale and dirt clumps flying onto adjacent homes on the north end of Steamboat II.
Flying debris hit the girl in the head. The girl, who was playing with her twin sister in the front yard of a home on Moonlight Way, suffered minor injuries that did not require medical attention.
Flying debris reportedly caused damage to four homes, two cars and two sheds. Duckels’ insurance company has covered the costs of some of the damage.
Moffat earlier said he filed the two counts of fourth-degree arson against Duckels because it fit the facts of the case.
According to state statutes, a person could be charged with the crime if a person knowingly or recklessly caused an explosion on his own property or that of another, and placed another in danger or placed any building or occupied structure in danger.
Fourth-degree arson is a class four felony if a person is endangered. The charge is a misdemeanor if it involves property.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment suspended Duckels’ explosives licenses shortly after the incident, which allowed him to purchase, store and blast explosives during construction projects.
The department alleged Duckels did not obtain a permit for the blast, failed to follow safety regulations and used too much dynamite.
The Routt County Sheriff’s Office confiscated all the explosives and tools Duckels used to set off dynamite.
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