Little Ollie’s employees killed on 82 |

Little Ollie’s employees killed on 82

Aspen Times Staff Report

A two-car accident on Highway 82 Monday morning killed two local men and hospitalized three women.

The two men, 24 and 35, died of massive internal and head injuries after a Jeep Cherokee struck them as they were trying to push a disabled van to the side of the road.

Both were of Chinese descent and worked at Little Ollie’s Chinese Restaurant in Aspen, according to an employee who works at the Little Ollie’s in Denver. Their names are being withheld until members of their families can be contacted.

The van stalled in the right lane of Highway 82 about a half-mile west of the intersection with Brush Creek Road, according to a press release from the Colorado State Patrol. The two men got out of the van and walked around the back to push it to the side of the road, the CSP said. Ling He, a 37-year-old Basalt resident, remained behind the wheel to steer it to the side of the road.

Meanwhile, according to at least one account, two cars were traveling upvalley in the right lane at about 55 mph. The driver of the lead car swerved before hitting the van, but the driver of the second, a late-model Jeep Cherokee, plowed into the victims and the van.

Because the driver of the first car did not remain at the scene, investigators could not confirm that chain of events.

The 35-year-old man died at the scene. An hour after the accident, his body lay prone behind the Jeep, surrounded by broken glass.

The other man was rushed to Aspen Valley Hospital, with massive head injuries. He had lost large amounts of blood, according to emergency dispatches at the time of the accident, and his vital signs were failing. He was treated for two hours before he died at 12:45 p.m.

Ling He was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital, where she was treated and released.

Kathryn Mahoney, the 45-year-old Basalt woman driving the Jeep, was also treated and released from the hospital.

According to emergency dispatches at the time of the accident, Gerda Mankus, a 94-year-old Basalt woman riding with Mahoney, suffered chest injuries. She is listed in fair condition and will remain in the hospital for at least one night, said a hospital spokeswoman yesterday.

After it was hit, the van rolled to the side of the road in the direction it was being pushed, its rear smashed in. Two boxes of paper containers used for to-go orders at Chinese restaurants burst open during the accident.

Emergency service personnel at the scene said a translator was required to communicate with Ling He. Little Ollie’s in Aspen remained closed all day and no one answered the phone.

In all, six separate emergency agencies – Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Aspen police, Basalt police, Aspen Fire District, the Eagle County Fire Protection District and the state patrol – responded to accident.

The upvalley lanes on Highway 82 were closed for more than two hours, as investigators from the Colorado State Patrol combed the scene for clues about what happened. Traffic was diverted to River Road at Gerbazdale and rejoined the highway at Smith Hill Road.

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