California women injured in crash off Independence Pass recovering in Lakewood hospital |

California women injured in crash off Independence Pass recovering in Lakewood hospital

Staff reports
A 2016 Kia Soul tumbled more than 500 feet off Independence Pass near the summit late Thursday night. Two women in the vehicle were airlifted to a Denver-area hospital.
Adolfo Verduzco / Courtesy photo

Two women who were in a car that plummeted more than 500 feet off Independence Pass late Thursday night are from California and remain in a Denver-area hospital Saturday morning.

The driver of the 2016 Kia Soul is a 53-year-old woman and the passenger is 30, and both were wearing their seatbelts, according to the Colorado State Patrol preliminary report. The accident happened about 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, authorities said, and the women were found about 11:30 a.m. Friday by a man passing by who reported it.

The women sustained traumatic and serious injuries, according to law enforcement reports, and they were airlifted to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood. That facility has a level 1 trauma center. Because of patient privacy laws, the women’s names and an update on their condition have not been released.

Sgt. Blake White, a CSP public information officer,  said Saturday morning the full accident report would take about a week to complete. The initial report filed Friday evening after the incident said the driver “failed to navigate a sharp turn” near the top of the pass, according to White. The turn is just past mile marker 62 on the Lake County side of the summit.

White said they do not suspect alcohol, drugs or speed as a factor at this time.

The Kia Soul overturned “multiple times” and was found an estimated 800 feet down from the road, according to the first trooper on scene. Reports have estimated the range for the drop from 500 to 800 feet.

The passenger was found outside the vehicle while the driver was still inside with her seat belt on, according to the CSP report. The driver was carried up the hill to a Flight for Life helicopter stationed at the summit of Independence Pass. 

The passenger was airlifted by a military helicopter from the crash site to the top of the pass (which is at 12,095 feet), then was airlifted by a second Flight for Lift helicopter from there to the Lakewood hospital, White confirmed Saturday.

This is a developing story that will be updated.