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Driver rolls SUV off narrow, one-way mountain pass near Telluride

A 23-year-old woman who attempted to turn around on Black Bear Pass rolled off the road and plunged 400 feet down the mountainside. She was ejected and suffered serious injuries. (Courtesy Telluride Fire Protection District)
Woman suffered serious injuries in crash Sunday morning

A woman was seriously injured Sunday during a rollover on the Black Bear Pass road near Telluride, according to a report on the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Deputies reported that the woman drove a 2021 Ford Bronco the wrong way up a one-way section of Black Bear Pass. After driving up switchbacks, the woman and her passenger decided to turn around. The driver was not from Colorado.

The passenger got out of the vehicle to help the driver negotiate the road. While backing up, two of the vehicle’s wheels went high enough onto the embankment to cause the vehicle to roll, then tumble off the road.

It rolled 400 feet down the mountain, ejecting the driver, the dog and the vehicle’s engine before coming to a stop upright on the road below.

The road was closed about 7:45 a.m.

A 2021 Ford Bronco rolled 400 feet off the switchbacks of Black Bear Pass Road Sunday morning and landed upright on the road below. The driver and a dog were ejected and survived. (Courtesy Telluride Fire Protection District)

The 23-year-old driver suffered serious injuries. The passenger was outside the vehicle when it rolled off the road and was not injured.

The dog was treated for minor injuries, according to the report. No hiker or other vehicle was in the area where the vehicle and debris landed.

A sign on the road informs drivers of the one-way restriction on Black Bear Pass. The passenger told deputies they did not see the sign indicating the beginning of the one-way pass.

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The driver was treated on scene by Telluride Fire Protection District medics and was transported to Telluride Regional Medical Center.

Based on the preliminary investigation, it appears the driver was not wearing a seat belt, but it has not been confirmed, said Susan Lilly, San Miguel Sheriff public information officer.

Black Bear Pass is considered a difficult four-wheel drive route, and the switchbacks on the Telluride side are one-way because of the narrow road.

The pass “is extremely dangerous ... and should only be driven by experienced off-road drivers in appropriate off-road vehicles,” San Miguel Sheriff Bill Masters stated in the Facebook post.

The Black Bear Pass and Bridal Veil Roads were closed for more than two hours because of the crash to allow for rescue operations and removal of debris. The pass reopened at 10 a.m.

Master thanked emergency responders for “their efficient response, and extends best wishes to the driver for a good recovery from her serious injuries.”

Black Bear Pass is east of Telluride.