Crash claims Milner man

Woman badly injured in collision on Rabbit Ears Pass

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— A Milner man who lived in Routt County for more than 20 years died Saturday from injuries sustained Friday in a car accident on Rabbit Ears Pass.

Ronald Ray Ellis, 53, died at the Denver Health Trauma Center. He never regained consciousness after the accident.

His wife, Susan Ellis, 51, was in critical condition in the surgical intensive care unit Wednesday. Her injuries include broken ribs, pelvis, collarbone and "numerous severe internal injuries," Colorado State Patrol troopers said.

The crash occurred as the couple was driving a 2002 Ford Ranger east on U.S. Highway 40 near milepost 144, Trooper Brett Hilling said. The Ford hit ice on a curve and skidded into oncoming traffic, he said.

Fire and Rescue personnel transported the Ellises to Yampa Valley Medical Center. Ronald Ellis was flown to Denver that night and Susan Ellis was taken the next morning, troopers said.

A longtime friend of Ronald Ellis said Wednesday the loss would be felt all over Routt County.

"He's going to be sorely missed," said Ray Banning, of Indiana, who lived in Steamboat for 25 years.

A memorial fund has been set up at Vectra Bank in Steamboat Springs to help the family with expenses. Neither Ronald nor Susan Ellis had health insurance. Call Vectra Bank at 879-4949.

"I had so much respect for him as a man and friend," Banning said. "He made you look forward to every day."

Ellis was working part time for A Plumber in Steamboat when he died. He once owned an auto repair shop in Milner, and also worked as a construction superintendent at Central Park Plaza last summer.

"Jack of all trades and a master of none, was the joke we always had," said his son, James Ray Ellis of Loveland.

James Ray Ellis, 28, said his father loved Milner for the community and the recreational opportunities.

"He was an avid hunter, snowmobiler, camper and fisherman," James Ray Ellis said. "He died on Rabbit Ears, where he loved to be."

Banning said Susan Ellis was in an induced coma and was not yet aware of her husband's death.

"The news of her soul mate not making it is going to be her toughest battle," Banning said. "They were attached at the hip and heart."

Ronald Ellis' son said the couple had been married for about three years.

The family had a viewing in Loveland on Wednesday. No memorial service will be held until Susan has recovered, James Ray Ellis said.

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