Aspen woman hurt when car flies off Highway 82 in Snowmass Canyon |

Aspen woman hurt when car flies off Highway 82 in Snowmass Canyon

John ColsonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
D&D tow truck driver Judd Doxey of Aspen and owner Dan Sparkman discuss ways to hoist a 2003 Nissan Altima from under the eastbound lanes of Highway 82 Monday morning near mile marker 28 in Snowmass Canyon, 10 miles west of Aspen. (Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

PITKIN COUNTY A young woman was pulled from her mangled car early Monday morning and rushed to the hospital, after the vehicle went flying off Highway 82 in Snowmass Canyon and landed on the ground beneath the elevated highway deck.According to a state trooper, the vehicles two occupants were taken by ambulance to Aspen Valley Hospital, one with severe injuries to her spine.The driver, Veronica Palomera, 26, suffered possible fractures to her spinal column and serious cuts to her face and arms, according to the trooper who investigated the accident. The passenger, Tim J. Spaulding, 30, of Aspen, sustained minor injuries.A hospital spokeswoman said Monday afternoon that the passenger had been treated and released, and the driver was listed in good condition as of 4:30 p.m.Trooper Rick Kolecki of the Colorado State Patrol said the car, a 2003 Nissan sedan, was heading upvalley at about 3:30 a.m. when apparently it just drove straight up onto the Jersey barrier. A Jersey barrier is a low wall of poured concrete that is erected in sections for temporary traffic management and is used as a permanent roadside barrier for parts of Highway 82.Kolecki said there was no apparent reason the car went off the road, he said, explaining that it did not look as though the car had skidded on ice.Kolecki said the car apparently scraped along the barrier for a distance of 27 feet or so before it climbed up onto the top of the barrier and skidded for another 77 feet.

At that point, the trooper said, the car launched off the barrier and into the air, traveling another 61 feet before slamming nose-first into the ground and flipping forward underneath the viaduct. The car reportedly landed on its wheels facing south, at about mile marker 27.5 east bound.According to Bob Helmus, a lieutenant with the Basalt Fire and Rescue service, Palomera did not have to be cut out of the car, but the incident was labeled an extraction because rescuers had to fashion a haul system to transport her 20 feet up to the roadway.Kolecki said the driver will be ticketed, possibly for drunk driving depending on the results of a blood test.Beyond that, he said, she faces charges of reckless driving, driving on a canceled or denied drivers license and driving without proof of