Alcohol use not to blame in deadly Highway 82 crash
Alcohol played no role in the New Year’s Eve traffic accident outside Aspen that claimed the lives of four Illinois residents.
“Alcohol was definitely ruled out,” said Tom Walsh, Pitkin County deputy coroner yesterday.
Walsh has also released the identities of the victims, all of whom were residents of Effingham., Ill. Killed in the two-vehicle crash were Michael Hindman, Jerry Ray, and Steven and Sharon Roth, according to Walsh. The Roths were married. All four individuals were 55 years old.
An autopsy performed on Hindman, who was driving the rental car in which all four victims were traveling, indicated no marked presence of alcohol, Walsh said. The driver of the other vehicle, Richard Connor, 24, of Carbondale, also tested negative for the presence of alcohol, the coroner said.
All four victims died of massive internal injuries, according to Walsh.
The fatal collision occurred at about 8:40 p.m. on Thursday, when Hindman pulled out of Smith Way onto Highway 82 across from Cozy Point Ranch, about five miles west of Aspen. The rental Toyota was struck broadside in the downvalley lane by a Range Rover driven by Connor.
Three of the four occupants of the Toyota were killed on impact; the fourth victim was transported to Aspen Valley Hospital and later pronounced dead, according to the coroner’s office.
Connor was transported to Aspen Valley Hospital with minor injuries.
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There is a lot of pent up energy among hikers and bikers to get into the high country, but snow fields, avalanche debris and high stream crossings are presenting challenges later than usual. Forest rangers with the Aspen-Sopris District provide trail condition reports that are updated each week so hikers and backpackers aren’t caught unaware.