Wednesday morning: Four back-to-back accidents block traffic near Granby
November 12, 2008
Several motorists rolled their vehicles, one-by-one, near Red Dirt Hill on Wednesday morning.
While all drivers and passengers were conscious at the scene, three people were airlifted to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver.
Three drivers were also charged with improper mountain driving.
The chain of accidents started at 7:54 a.m. when a white Ford Bronco rolled over at milepost 217. The Granby driver was not injured and did not need to be transported by ambulance, according to Colorado State Patrol Cpl. Darrell Salberg.
However, the driver was charged with operating a vehicle improperly on a mountain highway, he said.
Then around 8 a.m., a gray Chevrolet pickup rolled over east of the Ford Bronco near the bottom of the Granby side of Red Dirt Hill, said Don Miller, Colorado State Patrol trooper. The driver and his two passengers from the Denver area were transported to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver. The driver was also charged with operating a vehicle improperly on a mountain highway, he added.
At 8:09 a.m., a white Oldsmobile slid off the road and crashed into a tree. The 15-year-old Grand County driver was driving with a learner’s permit she obtained two weeks ago. Her father was the passenger.
Father and daughter were transported to the Granby Medical Center until they were stabilized, before getting airlifted to St. Anthony Central. The driver was also charged with operating a vehicle improperly on a mountain highway, Miller said.
Officers could not release the names of the drivers at the time this article was written.
The fourth accident took place in front of where the Oldsmobile slid off the road. A white Audi was following closely behind a black Ford pickup and rear-ended the vehicle. Both drivers exchanged information and no charges were filed. No one was injured and both vehicles were driveable, Miller said.
A section of U.S. Highway 40 near Red Dirt Hill was shut down for half an hour, from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m., after the accidents. Once the vehicles were cleared from the road, officers opened one lane.
The highway was completely cleared and traffic returned to normal by 10:55 a.m.
Most of the accidents involved SUVs, Miller said. “Unfortunately, people think when they have four-wheel drive that they are impervious to the weather. They were all driving too fast with the conditions that existed at the time.”
The highway near Red Dirt Hill was snow-packed and icy, he said, adding that it was difficult just to walk at the scene.
The motorists involved in the accidents were driving at speeds of about 40 mph.
Although the speed limit for that stretch of road is 65 mph, Miller said 40 mph is still too fast when the road is a sheet of ice.
He also pointed out that the speed limit is set for good road conditions. When weather conditions change from less than perfect, drivers should reduce their speed accordingly.
“When it starts to snow, and the roads are slick ” slow down,” State Patrol Cpl. Salberg said.
“It works better to get there (to work) late than not get there at all,” Miller added, noting that some of the motorists involved in the accidents tried to slam on their brakes.
“Braking on ice is a bad thing. Be very, very careful braking on ice,” Miller said.
” Katie Looby covers government and education for the Sky-Hi Daily News. She can be reached by calling (970)887-3334 ext. 19601 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.