One teen dead, five injured in crash near Carbondale

Ryan Summerlin
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

A 17-year-old girl was killed Sunday night and five other young people were sent to Valley View Hospital after a 1999 Audi sedan rolled on Garfield County Road 108 near Carbondale.

Rob Goodwin, deputy fire chief at Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District, said the car was found upside down in a creek at the bottom of a 200-foot ravine. “It was a tough night for everyone,” he said.

Ayleen Ruiz Alvarado, 17, of Carbondale, was a passenger in the car and was killed, Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire said Monday afternoon. An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday.

Emergency responders were paged about the wreck at 9:39 p.m. Sunday. Three of the occupants suffered serious injuries and two had moderate injuries. Not all of their ages were known, but Goodwin said “they were all young, that’s for sure.”

The car was driven by 19-year-old Gerardo Banda from Basalt, Colorado State Trooper Nate Reid said. Banda was ejected from the sedan as it rolled, and he was taken to Valley View with serious injuries.

Reid said that authorities suspect that alcohol was involved, but it was not clear Monday whether any charges had been filed.

The trooper reported that the driver was heading east on CR 108 when he attempted to pass another vehicle and lost control. The vehicle first went off the left side of the road, traveled up an embankment and started to overturn. It then traveled back across the road and rolled into the ravine.

Reid reported that none of the occupants appeared to be wearing seat belts.

On Monday evening, the deputy fire chief hadn’t heard any recent updates on the occupants’ conditions, but he was optimistic about their prospects, judging what he’d seen the night before.

“We were deeply saddened to learn of the accident earlier today,” said Kelsy Been, Roaring Fork School District public information officer. “The district’s priority right now is supporting our school community — the students, staff and family members who have been impacted by this tragedy.

Goodwin urged young people to be safe as the weather warms and the school year winds down.

“This is a great time of year, with graduation and things like that, but please be smart about it,” he said. “Don’t put yourself, or allow yourself to be put in a bad situation just because it’s a celebration. Enjoy it, but be smart about it.”

The deputy fire chief emphasized the importance of wearing your seat belt as well. “Seat belts will save your life, period. Even if the car goes off the road, you’ll very likely survive.” But people thrown from vehicles are much more likely to be killed or seriously injured, he noted.

“We had a lot of help last night,” said Goodwin, who wanted to thank supporting emergency responders from Glenwood Springs and Basalt fire departments, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and CSP. “A number of bystanders stopped to help as well. So I’d like to say thanks to them as well.”