by Eric Mullens
HUERFANO — Throughout the Spanish Peaks region over the first weekend of Spring, emergency responders, private tow companies and CDOT crews stayed busy as a fast moving snow storm swept through the area.
Snow began falling Friday evening and into Saturday where white-out conditions plagued I-25 and other highway travelers. Colorado State Patrol, county deputies and EMTs responded to dozens of slide off and rollover traffic accidents. Highway closures due to accident removal and weather conditions turned major routes into parking lots north and east of the Denver Metro area as well as across the central and southern Colorado region. The High Plains area of southeastern Colorado also saw blowing snow that affected traffic for much of the weekend.
While many of the traffic accidents were minor, CSP reported major traffic interruptions and at least two reported fatalities.
A New Mexico man was killed in a two-car crash Friday night on CO Hwy 160, approximately 40 miles east of Trinidad. Caleb Howard, 21, of Red River, NM died at the scene of the accident when his Ford F-150 pick up crashed into an eastbound semi tractor-trailer. Troopers say the pickup was westbound in the eastbound lane of traffic when the accident happened. Ty Modisette, 42, also of New Mexico, the driver of the semi, was seriously injured and transported to a medical facility. There were three passengers in the semi, two suffered injuries in the accident. Howard was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash according to CSP investigators
Both vehicles left the roadway following impact; the pick-up went off the right hand side of the road and rolled one time. The semi drove off the left hand side of the road, collided with a guard rail and caught fire.
The state patrol also investigated a two-vehicle fatal crash that occurred on CO Highway 287, approximately 13-miles south of Springfield in southeastern Colorado that happened at 12:30 am Friday. A 2004 Dodge van was northbound on the highway when it collided with a southbound 2005 Freightliner semi tractor. The driver of the van was killed in the accident. He has not been identified pending notification of next of kin. Rupinder Singh, 33, of Arlington, TX, the driver of the semi was treated for minor injuries at Southeast Colorado Hospital in Springfield. Investigators believe the driver of the van may have fallen asleep.
The CSP worked major accident scenes on I-25 near mile marker 253 Saturday including one in which a semi tractor tanker caught fire. An estimated 30 to 50 vehicles, including at least four semi tractors were reported to have gone off the roadway in the area and northbound traffic was halted for hours due to weather conditions and accident response.
The spring storm dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of Colorado Saturday which caused cancellation of hundreds of flights from Denver International Airport.
The storm moved east out of Colorado and tracked across mid-western states mainly along I-70 causing near blizzard conditions in northwest Kansas, and areas of Texas.
In the Spanish Peaks region, snowfall was heaviest on Saturday, but a light, dry snow began late Sunday afternoon and added about one inch to the weekend accumulation. While CDOT ran a full schedule of snow plows throughout the state, municipal side streets remained slick with ice and snow due to extremely cold overnight temperatures.