Lucas Ackerman
Lucas Ackerman (Provided by Grand County Sheriff via 7NEWS)

A 33-year-old man was arrested and accused of drunken driving after crashing his pickup truck into a large family after a Fourth of July fireworks display at Grand Lake, officials said Friday.

An Estes Park man was killed, and his wife and three of their children were injured. Five more of their children were not hurt.

Lucas Ackerman of Grand Lake appeared by video at an arraignment Friday before Judge Mary Hoak, the Ski-Hi Daily News reported, and was charged with vehicular homicide, a Class 3 felony, plus four counts of assault for driving under the influence of alcohol, child abuse and possession of a weapon under the influence, both Class 2 misdemeanors.

He was being held Friday evening at the Grand County Jail on $40,000 bail.

Grand Lake Fatal Accident
Medical helicopters flew directly to the scene of a vehicle-pedestrians accident, which occured around 10:20 p.m. on Thursday, July 4, about three miles south of Grand Lake. Highway 34 was closed down for longer than two hours, preventing the majority of fireworks spectators from traveling back to Granby and beyond. (Tonya Bina/Sky-Hi News)

Greg Westley, 50, was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife, Debbie Westley, 49, was flown by helicopter to Denver Health Medical Center with serious injuries, Lewis said.

A 10-year old daughter also was flown to Denver Health with minor-to-moderate injuries. Two others, a 19-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son, were flown to Children's Hospital with serious injuries. Both are in stable condition.

Ackerman has had prior convictions for drunken driving, drinking and assault crimes. According to court documents obtained by the Ski-Hi News, his blood-alcohol level when he was booked Thursday night was 0.156 — twice the legal limit. Arresting officers quoted him as saying he had drunk "six or seven beers."


Peter Vanderveen, neighbor of the Westleys, said the large family was close.

"On Halloween, she (Debbie) would make the entire family costumes, and they would all go out trick-or-treating together," Vanderveen said.

The family owned a large RV, which they used to go on vacation regularly, Vanderveen said.

Greg and Debbie would walk together around the neighborhood some evenings and Sundays, he said.

"They were wonderful people." he said.

The family attended Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.

Church staff said all were devastated by the news and were in the process of planning something on behalf of the family.

Ackerman was driving a 2006 Ford pickup when he allegedly struck the Wesley family as they were walking to their cars after the Grand Lake fireworks show.

Trooper Josh Lewis of the Colorado State Patrol said Ackerman was not injured, nor were the woman and children who were in his pickup. Ackerman has two children, ages 7 and 8.

At 10:30 p.m., the State Patrol was called to the scene, about 3 miles south of Grand Lake on U.S. 34 at Trail Ridge Marina near the Bluebird Motel. Lewis said the highway was closed for several hours during an investigation.

It was reopened in both directions by about 3 a.m., he said.

Ackerman has a history of minor criminal offenses, beginning in 1997 when he pleaded guilty to possession and consumption of alcohol by a minor. The following year, he was found guilty of misdemeanor assault.

In 2002, he was arrested for assault and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of harassment. The same year, he also was arrested for drunken driving and later served a 16-day jail sentence for the offense, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records.

In 2005, he was arrested for fighting and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.