One storm, nine accidents


Area law enforcement responded to nine accidents on Dec. 13 and 14, with the majority of the accidents caused by the winter storm that dropped 9 inches of snow at Wolf Creek Ski Area.

Seven of the accidents took place Dec. 13, and eight of the nine occurred after the storm moved into the area, with most being caused by the vehicles exceeding a safe speed. Most of the occupants involved were known to be wearing seat belts at the time of the accidents.

“They’re all a product of the weather,” said Colorado State Patrol Cpl. Randy Talbot.

The following information is taken from CSP traffic accident reports unless otherwise noted.

The first of the accidents reported by the CSP occurred before the storm and is attributed to excessive speed.

In that incident, a Pagosa Springs juvenile was westbound on County Road 302 (Mill Creek Road) at about 12:05 a.m. when her 1997 Subaru Outback lost control on a curve due to excessive speed, rotated clockwise and went off of the right side of the road, where it rolled one-quarter turn after hitting a ditch.

Of the four occupants of the car, only the driver reported injuries. The seat belt use of one of the occupants is unknown.

The day’s weather-related accidents began at 1:30 p.m. and continued until 9:40 p.m.

At about 1:30 p.m., a 2001 Lincoln Town Car was traveling south on North Pagosa Boulevard near Sweetwater Drive and was negotiating a curve when it rotated 180 degrees and slid off the west side of the road, hitting a culvert.

The road condition is listed as wet at the time of the incident. The driver was the only occupant and reported no injuries.

The next accident took place several hours later, at 4:20 p.m., with the road condition listed as slushy.

In that incident, a 1995 Toyota Corolla was westbound on U.S. 160 at mile point 136.2 (near the Parelli Natural Horsemanship ranch) when the driver lost control due to road conditions and the vehicle rotated clockwise rolling onto its top. The car then slid on its top off of the roadway, striking an embankment and rotating further. The car came to rest on the right shoulder of the road facing southwest.

The driver is listed as suffering evident, non-incapacitating injuries.

The next accident was at 6 p.m., with the road condition listed as snowy.

In the incident, a 1992 Mercury Sable was traveling north on North Pagosa Boulevard when the vehicle began to slide to the northwest, traveling off the roadway and striking a storm culvert with its front end.

The driver did not sustain injuries.

The next accident occurred at about 7:45 p.m. on U.S. 160 at mile point 113.9.

In that incident, a 1995 Ford Bronco was westbound on the highway when it lost control due to the slushy road conditions and ran off the road and down a steep embankment, where it struck a tree.

Both occupants of the car suffered injuries.

The next accident was discovered at about 9:35 p.m. on U.S. 160 near Great West Avenue, when Pagosa Springs Police Officer Floyd Capistrant said PSPD Lt. TJ Fitzwater found a vehicle on its top. Two occupants were taken to Pagosa Springs Medical Center. The incident remains under investigation.

The day’s final accident took place minutes later, at about 9:40 p.m., on U.S. 160 at mile point 160.6, on Wolf Creek Pass.

In that incident, a 2011 Dodge Durango was westbound when it lost control on the snowy roads and slid into a concrete wall. The driver sustained no injuries.

The following morning, with icy roads, two additional accidents took place. The first was a semi tractor-trailer in violation of the chain law on Wolf Creek Pass at about 6:30 a.m. In the incident, the semi slid and jackknifed. The driver  was not injured.

At about 9 a.m., another accident on U.S. 160 traversing Wolf Creek Pass injured five and resulted in a Texas man being cited with careless driving that caused bodily injury. Two of the occupants were wearing seat belts.

With winter only just beginning in Pagosa Country, Talbot offered a few tips for safe winter driving.

“My biggest thing is tires,” Talbot said, explaining that most people wait for it to snow before putting snow tires on their car. “If your car’s not equipped right with a good set of tires for the winter, it can cause an accident really quickly.”

Talbot suggested motorists also put a new set of wipers on their vehicles and offered a piece of standard winter-driving advice: slow down.