Storm catches some by surprise
October 30, 2005
“Slip Slidin’ Away,” the song by Paul Simon, undoubtedly was the tune of the day on Sunday for some drivers who got into trouble because of slippery roads.The valley’s first bout with winter driving conditions yielded no serious injuries. But a couple of vehicles did sustain considerable damage.Several hours of mid-day snowfall turned the highways to slush and packed roads less traveled with snow. More snow was predicted for the evening hours.Sunday’s snow gave area drivers a taste of winter that was fortunately uncomplicated by week-day traffic levels on Highway 82, two officers said.
Joe Bauer, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office patrol director, said the first snowfall that sticks to the roadways, resulting in slushy and sometimes icy conditions, is dreaded by law enforcement officials every year. The first significant snow brings with it a rash of accidents involving drivers unprepared to deal with winter driving conditions. Sunday’s record was not as bad as past years, Bauer said.The most serious accident, said State Trooper Denny O’Leary, happened around 11 a.m. at mile marker 30, at the upvalley end of Snowmass Canyon.A westbound 2002 Dodge sedan, driven by Brian Schroeder, 29, of Parker, spun out of control and slammed into a stop sign and a guard rail before stopping in the median strip. Schroeder and a passenger were taken to Aspen Valley Hospital with minor injuries. Schroeder was ticketed for careless driving.Around 8:30 a.m., Jose Orellana, 36, of Carbondale was going south on Brush Creek Road when his 1990 Toyota spun off the road, hitting a rock barrier and a fence, O’Leary said. Orellana had back pain and was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released. He also was ticketed for careless driving.A third accident happened at 10:45 a.m., at mile post 35 on Highway 82. A westbound 1999 Toyota utility vehicle, driven by Todd Richmond, 38, of Carbondale, spun out of control and ran into, then up onto a median. Dangling on the barrier, the truck blocked one lane for about 45 minutes before being pulled off by a tow truck and then driven away under its own power. Richmond was not injured and was not ticketed.
Trooper Joe LeMoine said that I-70 between Parachute and Glenwood Springs was “really wet [with] a light rain” around 12:30 p.m. The National Weather Service was predicting continued rainy and snowy weather for the Western Slope through Sunday night.The only accident along the interstate by early afternoon, he said, was when a car hit a deer near west Rifle and the car rolled. No one was injured.The Western Slope saw multiple accidents this weekend, including “a couple of semis that spun out” in the Vail Pass area on snowy roads. The semitrailer accidents tied up westbound traffic for a time, LeMoine said.In Aspen, there were no accidents that could be attributed to the snowstorm, said Aspen Police Officer Linda Consuegra.Snowmass Police Officer John Goodwin reported that a private snowplow truck slid off the road in the Wood Run neighborhood and had to be pulled out of the ditch.
Other than that, there were no accidents in the village through the middle of the day, Goodwin said.”It’s lucky this happened on a Sunday, and a Sunday when there was an extra hour,” he said, referring to the time change early Sunday. “Not that many people got up,” and the roads were relatively clear of cars during the snowstorm, he said.”It was like a practice game,” Goodwin continued, advising drivers to get their snow tires on as soon as possible because winter is here.”It’s time to do that, folks,” he admonished.John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org