Indiana man dies in crash


Authorities have identified the victim in a fatal tractor-trailer accident that happened Monday night on Rabbit Ears Pass.

The tractor-trailer's driver, 34-year-old Dennis William Barnett of Brazil, Ind., died in the crash. He was hauling a trailer full of construction equipment and was headed to Craig.

His wife, Michelle Barnett, was also in the truck and was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center and then flown to Denver Health Medical Center. She is listed in critical condition at the Denver hospital.

Steamboat Springs Fire and Rescue crews worked for almost an hour to free Michelle Barnett from the wreckage.

Early Tuesday morning, workers at the scene believed that a third passenger could still be inside the truck because children's items were found in the wreckage. However, Colorado State Patrol Trooper Rick Kaspar said Tuesday that just two passengers were in the truck.

An Air Life of Greeley helicopter called to transport Michelle Barnett to Denver was reported having difficulty finding the Yampa Valley Medical Center last night, making several circles over the city.

Air Life does not serve Yampa Valley Medical Center regularly, and initial reports indicated that the helicopter crew was given directions to the old Routt Memorial Hospital, which was located at 80 Park Ave. before Yampa Valley Medical Center was constructed. Air Life officials were unavailable for comment.

Hospital spokeswoman Christine McKelvie said she did not know why the helicopter had trouble finding YVMC. While Air Life does not serve the hospital frequently, it has flown to YVMC previously, she said. Air Life handled Tuesday's flight because the hospital's chief provider, Yampa Valley Air Ambulance, was out of service for maintenance, and Flight for Life, another regular provider, was busy with another flight, McKelvie said.

The Steamboat Springs Police Department helped direct the helicopter to the landing pad at the hospital.

The accident happened about 10:45 p.m. Monday near mile maker 142 on U.S. Highway 40. Dennis Barnett was traveling westbound on the west slope of Rabbit Ears Pass and had just passed a runaway truck ramp when he skidded and the semitrailer rolled onto its passenger side.

The semitrailer then slid off the right side of the roadway and the top of the truck slammed into the hillside. Debris scattered everywhere.

"We are still investigating why he crashed or why he did not take the runaway ramp," Kaspar said.

The truck was towed early Tuesday morning and debris was still being cleaned up Tuesday afternoon.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

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