Crash victims identified | AspenTimes.com

Crash victims identified

Naomi Havlen

The two victims in Sunday’s fatal crash on Highway 133 were Marble residents, police said Monday.Melissa Hasperue, 35, who was driving, and Ann Eaker, 39, were ejected when the vehicle went off the side of the road, rolled and crashed into the Crystal River.Hasperue apparently swerved to miss several deer in the road and lost control of the 1998 GMC Yukon, the Colorado State Patrol theorized.Patrol Capt. Barry Bratt said there were no eyewitnesses to the crash and authorities aren’t absolutely certain about the factors behind the crash. Evidence at the scene, however, indicates deer were in the vicinity. The accident occurred two miles from the Marble turnoff on Highway 133.”There was no difficulty in the vehicle until a sudden swerve, and right at the point of the swerve, there were several deer tracks,” Bratt said. “We’re not 100 percent certain, but this seems to be a likely reason for the crash.”Neither excessive speed nor alcohol were factors, he said.The women were headed south when the accident occurred around 3:20 p.m. The vehicle traveled down a steep embankment toward the river and came to rest on its roof in the water; the victims, who were not wearing seat belts, were found floating near a riverbank.The women were friends and roommates, according to their employers in Carbondale and Redstone. Eaker had bought a home in Marble and both women had moved there about a week ago.”Everybody loved Ann and she is really going to be missed,” said Patrick Raab, executive director of Heritage Park nursing home in Carbondale, where Eaker worked as director of social services. “She worked with our residents and helped support them and their families.”Hasperue had worked at the Redstone Inn since July, first as a grill server and then as a day bartender, said the inn’s general manager, Debby Strom.”She was great in the kitchen and she’d make our shy cooks laugh,” Strom said. “What we find upsetting here is that Melissa would never go anywhere without a seat belt. It’s hard to believe she didn’t have her seat belt on.”Strom said Hasperue once gave a fellow worker a ride home, but refused to go anywhere until her passenger was wearing a seat belt.The state patrol does not know precisely what time the accident occurred, and Strom wonders if Hasperue was coming to work when it happened. The vehicle and the women were spotted by a passing motorist.Kathy Vance, who operates the hair salon in the Redstone Inn, said she used to cut Eaker’s hair. She helped the women move into the home in Marble.”Annie was thrilled about buying the house – it’s right across the street from the Marble fire station,” Vance said. “They were both good girls.”Bratt said the accident is a reminder for motorists not to swerve suddenly when they encounter animals in the road.”Obviously, it’s first nature to swerve, but it’s almost always better not to,” he said. “The resulting accident is often worse than hitting the animals. Some people swerve for squirrels and raccoons, and it just isn’t worth it.”Carbondale and Redstone firefighters and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office assisted the patrol on the scene of the accident.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com


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