Officer: Accident was suicide attempt

Woman in head-on collision with dump truck in serious condition


— Authorities said Thursday a 30-year-old Steamboat Springs woman attempted suicide Wednesday afternoon by aiming her vehicle at a dump truck traveling northbound on Colorado 131.

A head-on collision between Nancy Unis' Subaru Outback and a dump truck loaded with gravel occurred just after 1:30 p.m. at about milepost 66.

The location of the accident is about a mile north of where a fatal head-on collision between a compact car and a semitrailer occurred last Friday.

Unis was traveling southbound when she left the lane to collide with an oncoming green 1998 Mack dump truck being driven by Jeff Clem, said Routt County Sheriff's Investigator Ken Klinger.

"The accident is still under investigation," Klinger said. "But we believe it was an attempted suicide."

Steamboat Springs firefighters had to pull Unis out of the Outback.

As of Thursday afternoon, Unis was listed in serious condition at Yampa Valley Medical Center, said Christine McKelvie, a hospital spokeswoman.

Unis suffered a collapsed lung, a broken left arm, a broken left leg and facial cuts, McKelvie said.

The collision between the two vehicles would have been dead-center had it not been for some impressive driving by Clem, Klinger said.

"He did a hell of a job," Klinger said of the Steamboat Springs man. "He saw her coming. He did a great deal to get out of the way. A 50,000-pound truck does not maneuver very well."

Due to Clem's attempt to drive off the side of the road to avoid the collision, the dump truck's driver's side impacted Unis' vehicle on her driver's side, which caved in the vehicle's front-end, Klinger said.

After the impact, Unis' vehicle continued southbound and came to a stop on the west side of the road. The dump truck continued northbound and went off the east side of the road and into a ditch about 6 feet deep, Klinger said.

Klinger praised Steamboat Springs firefighters for being able to tear away the vehicle's door to get to the trapped woman while working in about 4 feet of snow.

Because of the accident, a portion of Colo. 131 had to be closed. Authorities diverted traffic away from the area from 2 to 7 p.m.

"We had a real problem removing the dump truck," Klinger said of the truck that also had extensive front-end damage. "It was in a hole in about 6 feet of snow."

Clem, who works for Johnson Excavation Inc., was checked at the scene by medical personnel but did not need to be transported to the hospital.

Klinger believes at the time of the accident, Unis was traveling at least the speed limit on the road, which is 65 mph.

"She was moving along pretty well," he said.

A Colorado state trooper assisted Klinger and Sheriff's Investigator Gary Sigman at the scene.

"She will be cited," Klinger said of Unis. "Right now, we are determining what citations she will be issued."

The accident occurred five days after Eileen N. Nelson of Oak Creek was killed on the same stretch of Colo. 131.

Nelson, 56, was killed when her 1994 red Chevrolet Geo Metro collided head-on with a 1998 green Kenworth semitrailer being driven southbound by Ken Koch, 34, of Thornton.

Nelson was traveling northbound and was attempting to pass two vehicles in foggy weather when the head-on collision occurred.

Nelson was killed instantly.

The collision caused a seven-car pileup.

Koch and two other drivers involved in the accident were treated at the hospital the day of the accident for minor injuries. They were all released later that day.

Authorities also had to close off the road to clear up that accident.


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