Dick Oberwitte, of Arrowhead Auto & Equipment Repair, heads back to his tow truck after pulling a driver out of the ditch along U.S. Highway 40 near Hayden Station power plant Wednesday morning. Icy roads just east of Hayden caused many drivers to slide off the road and forced a short closure from about 7:30 to 9 a.m.

Photo by John F. Russell

Dick Oberwitte, of Arrowhead Auto & Equipment Repair, heads back to his tow truck after pulling a driver out of the ditch along U.S. Highway 40 near Hayden Station power plant Wednesday morning. Icy roads just east of Hayden caused many drivers to slide off the road and forced a short closure from about 7:30 to 9 a.m.

Icy roads cause slide-offs, crashes

Weather resulted in slides and road closure but no serious injuries

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— Icy conditions east of Hayden caused several drivers to slide off U.S. Highway 40 and forced a closure of the road from about 7:30 to 9 a.m. Wednesday.

As of Wednesday evening, there were no serious injuries reported for a few of crashes across the county.

Mellisa Baumgartner, public information officer for the Routt Coun­­ty Sheriff’s Office, said a vehicle slide blocked both lanes of traffic on the highway during the morning commute.

“It was extremely icy,” Baum­gartner said. “Traffic was already moving slowly as it was.”

U.S. 40 was closed just east of Hayden until a sand truck could arrive and the vehicle could be moved.

Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said there was a two-car, minor-injury crash at about 6:35 a.m. near mile marker 117 at the east end of the canyon between Hayden and Steamboat Springs.

Baumgartner reported that an eastbound Dodge Durango slid to the side of the road at about 6:30 a.m. She said the vehicle made contact with a Jeep Wagoneer, but no air bags deployed.

Medical crews took one driver to Yampa Valley Medical Center with minor injuries. Baumgartner said the driver was later released.

Another two-car, noninjury crash was reported at about 6 a.m. and was handled by the Sheriff’s Office.

Aside from the crashes, a number of drivers slid off the road and needed help getting their vehicles back on.

Elliott said several vehicles slid near mile marker 113 near the railroad tracks, and two slid off at mile marker 115, by the cliffs.

“I couldn’t even tell you how many cars slid off the road this morning because they were driving too fast for conditions or didn’t have the right tires, or they locked up because they were following someone too closely and had to slam on the brakes,” Baumgartner said.

She said as the roads melted and refroze, it was difficult for sanding trucks to keep up with the slick conditions.

Commercial vehicles were required to have chains on U.S. 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass, but the chain law was lifted just before 2 p.m., according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. The Colorado Department of Transportation’s website reported icy spots Wednesday evening on Rabbit Ears Pass.

The Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service is forecasting a slight chance of snow in the area this afternoon, with skies clearing through Friday.

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