Saturday, February 28, 2004
Several people were injured in Routt County on slippery, slushy roads Saturday, caused by Friday afternoon rain that progressed into snow through the day Saturday.
The worst accident of the day was at about 9:45 a.m. just east of the runaway truck ramp on Rabbit Ears Pass.
Rachel Weksler, 29, of Laramie, Wyo., was driving her 1998 Toyota Rav4 westbound on U.S. Highway 40 when she lost control and skidded into the eastbound lane, according to the Colorado State Patrol. The front of her vehicle struck the driver's side of an eastbound 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser, driven by Thomas Cameron, 33, of Seattle, Wash.
The impact tore the rear axel off the Land Cruiser and sent it skidding to the edge of the road, where it rolled 1 1/2 times down the steep embankment, coming to rest about 80 feet from the road and about 40 vertical feet below the roadway, according to the State Patrol.
The Rav4 skidded after impact, coming to rest on its wheels near the center of the roadway.
Neither the driver of the Land Crusier nor the three people in the Rav4 were seriously injured. Everyone was wearing a seat belt.
Cameron walked away from his totaled Land Cruiser with just a small cut on his lower left leg and was able to wave down traffic for help. Weksler and a passenger, Melissa Mitchell, 30, said they felt neck pain. Weksler's other passenger, Eric Rivers, 31, sustained a bruise on his lower left leg. Both passengers were visiting Steamboat Springs from Brooklyn, N.Y.
"It could have been much worse," Colorado State Patrol Trooper Rick Kaspar said. "If it would have been more of a direct, head-on crash, most likely there would have been worse injuries. They were lucky it was glancing blow. Because Mr. Cameron was restrained in his seat belt, rolling didn't cause any injury to him."
Both drivers reportedly were driving at or below the speed limit but slid because of ice on the road, according to the State Patrol.
Another ice-related injury accident happened at 7:20 a.m. west of Milner.
Yohana James, 27, of Craig, was driving an Isuzu Rodeo westbound to her job in Steamboat. When attempting to pass another vehicle, she slid and rolled twice off the left side of the road, according to the Colorado State Patrol. She was transported by ambulance to Yampa Valley Medical Center, where it was determined that she broke her left collarbone.
The ice was blamed for a slew of noninjury accidents, as well.
"The roads were really bad," said Deputy Jason Blackbourne of the Routt County Sheriff's Office. "Conditions were the same all over the county. Everybody was slipping and sliding, and some went off the road."
Two accidents were reported within the city of Steamboat Springs. One vehicle slid off U.S. 40 near Dream Island Plaza and struck a concrete barrier at about 7 a.m. Also, a two-vehicle, noninjury accident was reported on Mount Werner Circle in front of the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel at about 4:15 p.m., said officer Brian Rogers Steamboat Springs Police Department.
"It suddenly got cold last night," Kaspar said. "Roads were icy, slushy and snowy, which is common for spring snows up here. But today, the part closest to the road is slushy, and there was snow on top of that. It looks snowy and solid, but it was actually very slick."