Seat belt use may have saved life, trooper says


— A buckled seat belt would have made a difference in an one-car accident that claimed the life of a 33-year-old Denver man early Sunday morning, a state trooper said Monday.
Daniel Smith was killed after he was partially ejected out of a 2000 Subaru Outback he was driving on Colorado 131, state Trooper Brad Keadle said.
At the time of the accident that occurred between 3 and 5 a.m., Smith was not wearing a seat belt, he said.
"This is one of those accidents where a seat belt would have made a difference," said Keadle, who has been working as a trooper for more than four years.
Smith was traveling northbound on Colorado 131 when he crashed at milepost 65, which is about four miles south of U.S. 40, Keadle said.
Smith apparently drove off the right side of the roadway, where the vehicle went over brush and into an embankment, he said.
Smith's vehicle, which he was renting, rolled almost two times before it came to a stop on the driver's side, Keadle said.
Smith "was not fully ejected from the vehicle," he said. "And the vehicle's air bag did not deploy."
A motorist traveling on Colorado 131 noticed the wreck and called authorities. Keadle arrived at the scene about 5:45 a.m.
The crash is under investigation. Keadle is hopeful to nail down when the crash might have occurred.
"We are not sure what time exactly the accident occurred," he said. "We believe it happened anywhere between 3 and 5 a.m."
Authorities also do not know much about Smith and the circumstances that led to his death.
"We don't know if he was coming from Denver or from Vail," he said. "We do not know why he was coming up to this area."
Keadle was able to find out that the Outback Smith was driving was rented in Denver from Budget Rental Car.
Keadle has ruled out that alcohol played a factor in the accident, but the trooper continues to investigate why Smith lost control of the vehicle.
"We are not sure if he fell asleep or if he was just not paying attention," he said.
Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.
Routt County Coroner Doug Allen has scheduled an autopsy and a toxicology test to be done on the body.
Allen expects the results from the autopsy and the toxicology test, which detects drugs or alcohol, to be available by the end of the week.

To reach Gary E. Salazar call 871-4205 or e-mail


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