Minor injuries in three-car accident

Charles AgarAspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

ASPEN Rescuers had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate a passenger from a vehicle after a three-car accident Friday morning on Highway 82 near Aspen.Three people were transported to Aspen Valley Hospital, but officials reported that the victims suffered minor injuries.The wreck started at 9:30 a.m. with a rear-end collision in the left eastbound lane of Highway 82 near the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport.”Everybody was moving along, moving along. He stopped a lot sooner than I thought,” said Carbondale resident Dave Hoffberger, whose Honda Ridgeline ran into the back of a Dodge Neon with three passengers. Hoffberger was taking his friend Randy Dube of Aspen to work when traffic unexpectedly stopped in front of him, he said.

Witnesses said Hoffberger’s vehicle struck the Dodge, spinning the smaller car around, where it ran into a Toyota 4Runner.Witness Tim Lankins saw the accident from just a few car-lengths ahead. “I heard the squeal and heard the hit,” he said. “I looked up in the rear-view mirror and saw the blue Dodge a foot and a half off the ground sideways. … That was a hard, hard hit.” Lankins, a former surgical tech and experienced tow-truck driver, called 911 and turned his van around to see if he could help.”I was about to literally pass out,” Dube said.

The impact caved in the rear end of the Dodge, and rescuers had to stabilize and extricate one man from the back seat. The man, whom authorities have not identified, was transported to Aspen Valley Hospital on a backboard and stretcher.The Colorado State Patrol cited Hoffberger for careless driving causing bodily injury. “One of the witnesses said they thought [Hoffberger’s car] was going about 55 [miles per hour], and the other two cars were stopped,” said State Trooper Denny O’Leary.But the damage to the front of the Ridgeline was not consistent with high speeds, O’Leary said.

“The car looked kind of bad because the back was pushed in. … But they weren’t hurt very badly at all,” O’Leary said.O’Leary responded to a similar accident Thursday east of Owl Creek and said Aspen’s bottleneck is causing an increasing number of accidents.”I kind of attribute that to the bottleneck in traffic,” he said. “Recently it’s becoming more of a problem.”Charles Agar’s e-mail address is