Two hurt, driver cited after SUV rolls off Ajax cliff
Two area teenagers sustained broken bones, but no serious injuries, when their Isuzu rolled over a 15-foot cliff and down the steeps of the Pussyfoot ski run near the summit of Aspen Mountain Tuesday night.
Johnny Ziegler, 18, of Old Snowmass, sustained a broken foot, and a juvenile female sustained a broken collarbone in the accident, according to Trooper Bill Barkley of the Colorado State Patrol. Neither individual was wearing a seat belt.
Ziegler was charged with careless driving causing bodily injury and driving under revocation, according to Barkley. Alcohol was not involved, he added.
Two other teens indirectly involved in the accident, Mike Zimmerman and another juvenile female, sustained cuts and scrapes.
According to authorities, Ziegler was driving the four-wheel-drive Isuzu. The girl who sustained the broken collarbone was in the front passenger seat, and Zimmerman and the other girl were on the vehicle’s back bumper, trying to stabilize the vehicle on the steep pitch. They jumped off just before it rolled.
“They were trying to climb up a steep upgrade and then turn around and they ended up sliding down backward, down the ski run, before it started rolling,” Barkley said. “They were trying to do a U-turn on this old, narrow road – they were lost, I think – and it didn’t work out for them.”
The vehicle rolled once or twice before it came to rest at a stand of trees, according to Deputy Michael Kendrick of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
“Luckily, the ground was groomed in that area for the most part,” Barkley said. “I guess they went off a 15-foot cliff before they rolled into the steep downgrade, and if it hadn’t been for the trees, they would’ve kept rolling.”
“We had to find them using the cell phone and siren system,” explained Kendrick. He said since the group didn’t know exactly where they were on Aspen Mountain, but they did have a cell phone, authorities were able to blare their sirens and zero in on the group with their instructions.
Members of Aspen ambulance, the Aspen Fire Department, sheriff’s office, the Aspen Skiing Co., the Colorado State Patrol and Aspen Police Department responded to the emergency.
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