Two die in blizzard on eastern plains, storm wanes
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Snow and wind gave way to sunny skies and warmer temperatures across Colorado Sunday, but parts of the eastern plains were still dealing with the dicey conditions that contributed to a fatal traffic pile-up.
Most of the highways closed Saturday by gusts of up to 60 mph that blew snow into drifts and cut visibility were reopened by late Sunday morning. The Colorado State Patrol said a truck-tractor pulling a semi trailer that was driving too fast for the conditions caused a four-vehicle accident that killed two women.
Ginger Gillespie, 48, and Lois Kelton, 77, both of Grand Junction were killed when the truck struck the back of their Jeep, which was headed east on Interstate 70 near Limon Saturday evening.The State Patrol said the Jeep went off the road and burst into flames.
The State Patrol said the truck driven by Richard Widmier, 62, of Burleson, Texas, then collided with the rear of a pickup truck, which collided with a Chevy Suburban.
The pickup driver had minor injuries but didn’t go the hospital. Widmier and the driver and three passengers in the Suburban weren’t injured.
The State Patrol said Widmier was driving about 55 mph while the other vehicles were going about 15 mph because of blizzard conditions.
“You have three vehicles traveling slow because of the blizzard conditions. The semi comes up behind them and hits them,” Colorado State Trooper Gilbert Mares said.
Authorities said Widmier was arrested on charges of vehicular homicide, third-degree assault and reckless driving and was taken to the Elbert County jail.
Most of the highways closed because of blowing snow Saturday were reopened Sunday. Those included Interstate 70 east of Denver and Interstate 25 from Wellington to the Wyoming line.
Westbound I-76 from to Julesburg to Nebraska was still closed early Sunday afternoon.
Travelers from Canada, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, California and Denver stayed at Red Cross shelter in Fort Morgan Saturday night.
Dry air over the Front Range spared the area the bulk of Saturday’s storm, Colorado’s third in less than two weeks. Parts of the mountains got more than a foot of snow and the foothills reported 6 to 10 inches.
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