UPDATE: Three people dead after SUV hits bear on I-70 near Rifle
Seven individuals were in the SUV that struck a bear on Interstate 70 outside of Rifle early Friday morning. Three died.
New Castle residents Kimberly Hernandez, 7, and her grandfather Eugenio Hernandez Altamirano, 63, were pronounced dead at the scene, confirmed Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire.
Brizeyda Hernandez, 15, Kimberly’s sister, died later at Grand River Hospital in Rifle at 9:25 a.m.
Colorado State Patrol Trooper Nate Reed said an unknown number of people in the vehicle were ejected in the crash.
The other occupants, Kimberly’s parents, grandmother, older sister and brother were transported to hospitals in Glenwood Springs and Rifle. A Colorado State Patrol statement indicated the bear also died.
The Coroner’s Office did not have an update on the status of the other family members as of Friday afternoon.
I-70 eastbound was closed from around 4 to 10 a.m. for crash and vehicle clean-up. Reed said that the patrol received the initial call at around 3:37 a.m.
The investigation into the cause and manner of deaths is ongoing, according to Glassmire. The state patrol statement said drugs, alcohol and speed are not currently considered factors in the crash.
While collisions with elk and deer are certainly more common, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northwest Region PIO Mike Porras said vehicle collisions with a wide variety of wildlife can occur across Colorado. Mountain lions also can cause collisions, and moose are the most dangerous.
He referenced CPW’s partnership program with the Colorado Department of Transportation — the Colorado Highway 9 Wildlife Crossing Project — as one way officials are helping to lessen these incidents and fatalities.
The project provided a safe route for thousands of mule deer, elk and deer to cross the busy Colorado highway using Colorado’s first-of-its-kind wildlife overpass and underpass system on Highway 9 between Green Mountain Reservoir and Kremmling.
“If you’re driving, expect the possibility of wildlife,” he said. “One of the best parts of Colorado is the wildlife, but if you live in Colorado the best thing you can do is be aware.”
This time of the year can be practically dangerous for drivers as it gets darker earlier and wildlife is still active, including larger animals. The bear that was struck Friday weighed approximately 300 pounds, Porras said.
“Never let your guard down and scan both sides of the road,” he added.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Wildlife questions, future development intentions cited in Garfield County’s denial of Aspen Glen request to remove eagle protections
Voting last week to deny a request by property owners to remove a protective bald eagle buffer zone at Aspen Glen near Carbondale was the first step for Garfield County Commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson. The second step came Monday when they put their thoughts to paper, spelling out six specific reasons in a formal resolution denying the request.