Snowstorm makes mess of roads – and fenders |

Snowstorm makes mess of roads – and fenders

Tim Mutrie

One of the worst driving days of the winter began Wednesday morning with heavy snows that continued to pelt the upper valley through the afternoon commute.

By 7:45 p.m. yesterday, the Pitkin County Communications Center had fielded 17 calls reporting vehicle accidents and mishaps during the day Wednesday.

“If you give it another minute or two, we’ll probably have more,” a communications official quipped.

But as of 8 p.m. last night, none of the accidents had resulted in serious injuries to people, though the same cannot be said for front ends and such.

“It’s a sheet of ice from Old Snowmass to El Jebel,” reported one tense driver. “There were accidents all up and down the valley.”

“The worst conditions were between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. – the RFTA buses couldn’t even get traction,” said Aspen Police Officer Michael Buglione.

“People were sliding into each other, buses were sliding off the road, and most of it – no all of it – was due to people driving too fast,” said Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy George Kremer. “Some tickets are being issued out of the deal.

“The snow just packed down into hard-pack ice and as I said, people were going too fast,” Kremer continued. “A lot of accidents involved four-wheel drives, which is fairly typical. The standard response we get from single-car accidents involving four-wheel drive SUVs is, `But I had it in four-wheel drive.’ It’s been such a mild winter and I think we tend to forget.”

Kremer said Wednesday was “right up there” as one of the worst driving days of the winter. “It’s been hopping, and it’s been that way for most of the day.”

The Aspen Police Department declared an accident alert at 4:10 p.m., and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office followed suit at 5:48 p.m. An accident alert means that with vehicular accidents that don’t involve injuries, parties are asked to exchange information and report the incident the following day. That frees up authorities to handle accidents involving injuries and other emergencies.

Yesterday’s snowstorm also forced cancellations of flights into and out of Aspen’s Sardy Field. United Express canceled all of its flights to and from Aspen after 11 a.m., a spokesperson said.

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