Motorist having diabetic episode hits trees, signs | AspenTimes.com

Motorist having diabetic episode hits trees, signs

OLD SNOWMASS – Upvalley traffic on Highway 82 was suspended for 20 minutes Monday so law enforcement officials could contain a motorist who knocked down several small trees and at least two traffic signs before his vehicle came to a rest on a jersey barrier.

The man apparently was suffering a diabetic reaction, according to officials with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. After sheriff’s deputies were able to contain him, he was transferred to Aspen Valley Hospital and treated for minor injuries. No one else was injured, and no other vehicles were involved.

The incident occurred at about 1:15 p.m., near the Old Snowmass post office. A Basalt police officer initially responded to the scene and tried to communicate with the driver. The motorist punched at his window, and instead of trying to press the matter, the officer waited for Pitkin County deputies to arrive.

Officials then shut down the upvalley lane of Highway 82, at the Snowmass Creek Road intersection, so they could contain the man, said Deputy Michael Buglione. Initially officers thought he was having a psychological episode, or perhaps was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

It turned out the man was incoherent from a diabetic reaction, Buglione said.

Buglione said he initially tried to speak to the man through the rear window on the driver’s side, which had been knocked out.

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“I asked him if he had been using drugs or drinking, and I couldn’t get an answer,” he said.

Buglione said he also asked the man if he had any firearms or weapons. The victim responded by shaking his head and saying “yes,” Buglione said.

“I asked him his name and he didn’t know,” he said.

Both airbags in the man’s Subaru Legacy deployed, and deputies had to sever his seat belt to remove him from the car. While en route to Aspen Valley Hospital, he was treated for his condition.

“He started feeling better then,” Buglione said, adding that when he later talked to the man, the victim did not remember a thing.

“He actually was pretty thankful,” Buglione said, “and he was pretty embarrassed.”

Undersheriff Joe DiSalvo said the motorist would not be cited.

“How can you hold a guy a responsible for this?” he said. “It’s like charging someone for having a stroke at the wheel.”

DiSalvo and Buglione said as unfortunate as the incident was, it could have been much worse had other vehicles been involved.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com