Teen recovering from broken arms, legs | AspenTimes.com

Teen recovering from broken arms, legs

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The teenager injured in a multivehicle crash near Snowmass Canyon on Monday has been upgraded from critical to serious condition.

Phillip Vernier, who according to the Colorado State Patrol is from East Point, Mich., broke both his arms and legs in the accident, and both of his lungs were collapsed. Vernier, 17, was extricated through the roof of the Jeep Cherokee he was driving.

A spokeswoman for St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver said the teenager was in intensive care and was upgraded from critical condition after having surgery on Tuesday.

The accident closed Highway 82 for two hours during the evening rush hour.

The driver of the truck that collided with Vernier’s vehicle, Jose Nevarez, 23, of Carbondale, will be charged with careless driving causing bodily injury, no proof of insurance and violating his license restrictions. According to the State Patrol, neither drugs nor alcohol are suspected to be involved in the accident.

“Heavy traffic congestion, adjacent road construction and Nevarez’s inattention to his driving were factors in the crash,” reads a statement from the State Patrol.

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“We have not had that many problems with the traffic or construction in the canyon,” said Tom Grady of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. “Everyone is so aware of the danger in that area that it’s usually exceptionally safe.”

Grady confirmed an eyewitness report that Nevarez was trying to slow down to avoid a line of stopped traffic when he slid into the upvalley lane, broadsiding Vernier. The truck crushed the Jeep against a cement barrier on the right side of the highway.

Nevarez and his passenger, Noel Carbajal, 20, of Carbondale, were both ejected through the windshield since they were not wearing seat belts. The two men landed in construction dirt on the side of the road, and were treated and released from Aspen Valley Hospital on Monday evening with minor injuries.

An eastbound Volkswagen Jetta driven by Benjamin Belyea, 22, of Traverse City, Mich., also hit Nevarez’s truck as it blocked the eastbound lane. According to the State Patrol, Belyea was uninjured and was able to drive from the accident.

Two other vehicles were involved in an accident while trying to avoid the initial collision, but neither driver was injured.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com.]

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