Aurora residents ID’d in Glenwood Canyon accident
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Authorities have identified the victims of an accident early Wednesday morning in a construction zone in Glenwood Canyon as members of a Denver-area family.
The crash killed one woman and injured three passengers in her car.
The driver of the Mazda sedan that slammed head-on into a semi truck and burst into flames had still not been positively identified by Colorado State Patrol investigators as of Friday.
However, a person close to the family said the woman was the wife and mother, respectively, of two survivors of the crash, Ronald R. Hart, 53, and Lisa M. Hart, 25, both of Aurora.
They, along with Lisa Hart’s son, Zayden Pecosky, 4, of Westminster, were pulled from the burning vehicle by witnesses who came upon the scene following Wednesday’s 4:30 a.m. accident. The bystanders were unable to pull the driver from the wreckage in time. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Meanwhile, an attorney representing Ronald Hart on another matter, said he will be looking into the circumstances leading to the accident, including safety conditions in the construction zone.
“We are representing the family and will be doing our own investigation into the accident and the causes,” said Paul Fisher, of Fisher & Associates in Denver. “It’s important to make sure these construction zones around the state are safe, and that they are done right.”
The crash occurred on Interstate 70, 11 miles east of Glenwood Springs within a construction zone where eastbound traffic has been diverted onto the elevated westbound lanes since early April.
It was the second fatal accident in that stretch of I-70 in the past six weeks.
According to the State Patrol, this week’s accident resulted when the Mazda was headed east in the two-way-traffic zone and “abruptly” moved into the westbound lane, colliding head-on with the tractor trailer driven by Daniel Robertson, 54, of Las Vegas, which had just emerged from the Reverse Curve Tunnel.
One of two saddle tanks broke off the semi and the other was punctured open, spilling approximately 100 gallons of diesel fuel onto the roadway. I-70 closed in both directions for about eight hours Wednesday to allow for cleanup and to remove the wreckage.
Robertson was able to escape the burning cab and was not injured in the crash. Updated conditions of the other three survivors, who remained hospitalized, were not available Friday.
“The investigation is still ongoing,” Trooper Graham Thorne said. “However, driver fatigue has been determined as the possible cause of the crash.
“Impairment by prescribed medication is considered a factor,” he also said. “However, toxicology reports from the coroner have not been completed.”
The construction zone does have a reduced speed limit of 40 miles per hour, but excess speed was not cited as a cause in either of the fatal accidents.
Around 5:30 a.m. on April 14, Brianda Zavala, 18, of Glenwood Springs, and her two passengers, Jennifer Nevarez, 16, of Carbondale, and Albino Ortiz-Monge, 24, of Gypsum, all were killed when their Audi sedan slammed head-on into a semi-truck. That accident happened two miles east of where this week’s accident occurred.
An autopsy report revealed that Zavala was drunk at the time. The State Patrol said she was driving in the wrong lane. The driver of the truck escaped injury in that accident as well.
The Colorado Department of Transportation reviewed the circumstances surrounding the April 14 accident, and determined that proper safety procedures were followed in setting up the construction zone. Another CDOT review will be done when the latest accident investigation is completed, CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said on Thursday.
An attorney for the family involved in this week’s accident told the Post Independent Friday that he also intends to follow up on the circumstances leading to the crash.
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Garfield County is staying at a moderate level of restrictions, despite higher incidence rates, and commissioners are worried about potential effects on businesses that shutdowns could bring.