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Four die in head-on crash

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

A trooper with the Colorado State Patrol and rescuers with Durango Fire & Rescue Authority investigate a head-on collision on County Road 318 southeast of Bondad Hill, about a half-mile from U.S. Highway 550, on Friday afternoon.

By Shane Benjamin Herald staff writer

BONDAD – Four people were killed and three others injured Friday afternoon in a head-on collision on La Plata County Road 318 about a half-mile east of U.S. Highway 550.

The crash occurred at 3:47 p.m. and involved a white Ford Focus and a white Chevy Suburban. Both vehicles came to rest in the eastbound lane, said Karola Hanks, fire marshal with Durango Fire & Rescue Authority.

The four people killed were in the Focus, which was registered out of Trinidad, said Capt. Martin Petrik with the Colorado State Patrol. All four occupants appeared to be in their late teens or early 20s, he said.

Two men were in the front seats and two women were in the back.

Their identities were not released pending notification of next of kin. The driver was Native American but not a member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Petrik said.

Billie Jo Lyda, 33, of Pagosa Springs and two small boys in car seats were inside the Suburban, which is registered out of Pagosa Springs, Petrik said.

Lyda was taken to Mercy Regional Medical Center by ambulance with serious injuries, where she was listed in fair condition Friday night. The two boys were driven to the hospital for observation, Hanks said.

The identities of the boys were not immediately available Friday night.

Petrik said the Suburban was in its own lane heading eastbound when the Focus, for unknown reasons, crossed the center line and collided with the Suburban.

The Focus, which was coming downhill, left skid marks that made it appear as if the vehicle was passing somebody, Petrik said. They were not brake marks; rather, they were yaw marks – the kind left when a vehicle makes a high-speed turn and causes the wheels to squeal, he said.

Police were unaware of any witnesses to the accident.

“The car was on the wrong side of the road. Why, we don’t know,” Petrik said.

The driver of the Suburban, which was traveling uphill, had no time to hit the brakes.

“It seems like they got hit out of nowhere,” he said.

Three helicopters were dispatched to the scene, but all were canceled when rescue workers arrived and decided they were unnecessary, Hanks said.

County Road 318 was closed near Bondad for about four hours as authorities investigated, and reopened at about 8 p.m. The closure was made as an accident reconstruction team and the coroner worked the crash site, about four miles north of the Colorado-New Mexico line.

The crash investigation was expected to be transferred to the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Police, because the driver suspected to be at fault was Native American and the crash happened on the reservation.


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