Locals killed in Monday crash


Staff Writer

Two Pagosa Springs residents were killed Monday evening in a head-on collision with a semi atop Yellowjacket Pass.

U.S. 160 at the site, mile marker 114 (slightly west of the Yellowjacket summit), was closed for nearly three hours following the accident, said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Doug Wiersma.

Wiersma explained that the couple, Henry and Norma Buslepp, both 82, was eastbound on U.S. 160 in their 2008 Nissan Ultima when the vehicle drifted across the centerline and both westbound lanes before colliding head-on with a 2012 Kenworth semi tractor pulling a trailer.

After colliding, the semi pushed the Nissan backward from the point of impact. Both vehicles came to rest on their wheels in the roadway, Wiersma said.

Henry Buslepp died at the scene, while Norma Buslepp was transported via helicopter to Mercy Regional Medical Center, where she later died.

The semi was driven by Alonzo Luna, 46, of Anthony, N.M. Luna was not cited in the incident.

The incident occurred at about 4:30 p.m. Wiersma, the first trooper on the scene, closed the highway upon arrival, at approximately 4:45 p.m. It reopened shortly before 7:30 p.m.

The incident is still under investigation, though Wiersma said neither speed nor alcohol are suspected in the incident.

Another incident on Feb. 27 on Wolf Creek Pass ended with a better outcome.

In that incident, which occurred at about 9:10 a.m., Wiersma reported that a 2002 Volvo tractor trailer hauling a load of calcium chloride overturned on Wolf Creek Pass near the scenic overlook.

The semi, registered to Pennington Farms, out of Birch Run, Mich., was driven by Joseph Southern, 45, of Mesa, Ariz., Wiersma said.

Southern was westbound on U.S. 160 when he lost control of the semi near mile marker 161, Wiersma said, adding that, after losing control, Southern drove the semi off the right-hand shoulder and into the mountain side, crashing into two signs. The semi then rolled onto its left side and slid to a stop at the entrance to the scenic overlook.

No fuel or hazardous materials were spilled during the incident, and Southern was not injured, Wiersma said.

Southern was cited for careless driving.