El Jebel crash quite a scene | AspenTimes.com
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El Jebel crash quite a scene

Aspen Times Staff Report

A spectacular car wreck in El Jebel yesterday snarled traffic for two hours, knocked out power and demolished a Subaru Outback, but left the driver relatively unscathed.

The car was so badly damaged that many of the scores of observers of the rescue couldn’t tell the front end from the rear.

Basalt firefighters used hydraulic saws and other tools for 45 minutes before they could rip the top off. The driver, John Wenisch, 63, of Old Snowmass, was also trapped by the steering wheel and column, according to Fire Chief Steve Howard.

“He was conscious and talking to us right off the bat,” said Howard. Wenisch told rescuers that he couldn’t move his legs, but he couldn’t tell if it was because of injury or being pinned in.

Rescuers couldn’t rush into the job because the car landed in an unstable position under power lines that appeared ready to fall. They cut the hatch off the car, started an IV for Wenisch, then went to work to remove him. The driver was the lone occupant.

“That’s probably one of the more difficult extrications we’ve had in some time,” Howard said.

According to authorities, Wenisch, a diabetic, was impaired by low blood-sugar levels, resulting in the crash.

The Subaru was headed downvalley when it went off the right shoulder directly in front of the Wendy’s in El Jebel. The car snapped off one small cottonwood tree, smacked a planter, spun around 180 degrees, then hit a power pole with enough force to snap it.

The accident occurred at 3:08 p.m. More than a hundred people spilled out of Wendy’s and other businesses in the El Jebel core to check out what happened.

Highway 82 was closed almost exactly two hours due to the danger of lines coming down. Power was out in the El Jebel area for about 2 1/2 hours.

Wenisch was transported to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.

A nurse there reported he was in stable condition yesterday afternoon. “He told me himself he’s fine,” the nurse said.


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