Icy canyon causes multi-car pileup | AspenTimes.com

Icy canyon causes multi-car pileup

John Colson

A woman was hospitalized Sunday after a series of accidents in Snowmass Canyon, and four vehicles were heavily damaged.The accidents, which happened around 1 p.m., closed the downvalley lanes of Highway 82 for two and a half hoursTrooper Justin Mitchell of the Colorado State Patrol said it was “miraculous” that a total of 12 other people were not injured, despite the fact that the cars they were in were “totaled.”The wrecks began when an early 1990s Suzuki Sidekick driven by Santiago DeFilippo, 23, of Aspen, hit ice in the right lane of travel at mile marker 28 in the canyon, went into a spin and slammed into the median-side barrier.DeFilippo and his female passenger were unhurt. But his car was blocking the left lane of the highway when a 1993 Nissan Maxima driven by Anibal Merlioz, 35, of Carbondale, approached. Merlioz’s car also spun out and hit the barrier, but did not hit DeFilippo’s vehicle.Merlioz and the two children in the car also were not injured, but the left lane was now blocked by two disabled vehicles when a third vehicle, a 2003 Land Rover Discovery driven by Romina Garfunkel, 24, of Basalt, came upon the scene.Garfunkel’s vehicle again hit a patch of ice, spinning out of control and flipping before coming to rest on its wheels and blocking the road still further. Again, Garfunkel and her two passengers were not injured, and to this point none of the cars had actually collided.But a 1996 Chrysler sedan, driven by Christella Cano Arroyo, 23, of Basalt, couldn’t stop and slid into the Merlioz’s car.Arroyo was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital for observation, but her passengers, two children and two adults, were not hurt.All four drivers were ticketed for driving too fast for conditions, Mitchell said. The highway was closed until about 3:30 p.m. to allow three ambulances, two fire trucks, two state patrol vehicles and three tow trucks to deal with the mess.Mitchell attributed the low level of injuries to the fact that most, if not all, of the passengers and drivers were wearing seat belts. He said there was no indication that alcohol or drugs were involved.Westbound traffic was diverted down Gerbaz Road to Lower River Road during the highway closure.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

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