Hwy. 160 crash kills 3

Adult, child airlifted from fiery scene

An AirCare helicopter takes off for San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington from the scene of a multiple fatal accident Tuesday evening on U.S. Highway 160 west of Hesperus. The helicopter carried one survivor. A CareFlight helicopter prepared to carry a second survivor to Mercy Regional Medical Center. The two vehicles involved in the crash, foreground, burst into flames immediately after the crash. Three people were killed and two were injured. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Herald

An AirCare helicopter takes off for San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington from the scene of a multiple fatal accident Tuesday evening on U.S. Highway 160 west of Hesperus. The helicopter carried one survivor. A CareFlight helicopter prepared to carry a second survivor to Mercy Regional Medical Center. The two vehicles involved in the crash, foreground, burst into flames immediately after the crash. Three people were killed and two were injured.

Three people were killed and two were injured Tuesday evening when two cars crashed head-on on U.S. Highway 160 between Hesperus and Mancos Hill.

The accident closed both lanes to traffic between Mancos Hill and Hesperus on Highway 160 for more than four hours.

The accident was reported at 5:01 p.m. in the 7000 block of U.S. Highway 160, seven miles east of Mancos Hill. Colorado State Trooper Heather Cobler said a Chevrolet pickup was traveling westbound on Highway 160 when the driver crossed the center line and hit head-on a Toyota FJ Cruiser traveling eastbound. The vehicles immediately burst into flames.Cobler said it’s unknown why the driver crossed the line into oncoming traffic.

Colorado State Trooper Jared Rapp said the three dead included two adults and one child. All three were dead at the scene. Two others were injured with multiple burns; a child was transported by AirCare to San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, and an adult was transported by CareFlight to Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango. Their conditions were unknown, Cobler said.

Cobler said as of 9:30 p.m., authorities were trying to find evidence that would identify where the car occupants were from so that next of kin could be notified.

“Because the cars were so badly burned, all the identifying information was burned, too,” said Cobler.

Dave Imming, speaking on behalf of Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Department, said the FJ Cruiser had four occupants and the truck had one occupant.

Westbound traffic was rerouted south on Colorado Highway 140 at Hesperus. Eastbound traffic could not be rerouted, and vehicles were backed up for hours. The lanes were closed from just minutes after the accident happened until about 9:15 p.m. One driver said that by the time the road opened, the line of cars waiting to travel eastbound was two miles long.

Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District, Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, Colorado State Patrol, Mancos Fire Protection District, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office responded to the accident.

An Colorado State Patrol officer investigates a two-vehicle crash Tuesday afternoon on U.S. Highway 160 west of Hesperus. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Herald

An Colorado State Patrol officer investigates a two-vehicle crash Tuesday afternoon on U.S. Highway 160 west of Hesperus.

Traffic backed up in both directions Tuesday evening after a two-car accident on U.S. Highway 160 west of Hesperus. Both lanes of traffic were closed between Mancos Hill and Hesperus for more than four hours. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Herald

Traffic backed up in both directions Tuesday evening after a two-car accident on U.S. Highway 160 west of Hesperus. Both lanes of traffic were closed between Mancos Hill and Hesperus for more than four hours.