Fog and icy road conditions are partly to blame for a four-vehicle crash that sent a Mancos woman to the hospital in critical condition Wednesday morning west of Durango, according to the Colorado State Patrol.
The crash occurred about 8 a.m. at milepost 75.1 on U.S. Highway 160, just west of the Durango West I subdivision, on Hesperus Hill, said Cpl. Jonathan Silver, with the State Patrol.
The chain reaction began when a Chevrolet Trailblazer traveling east toward Durango lost control and ran off the right side of the road, Silver said.
“He was traveling too fast for conditions, lost control, went off the road, rolled into a tree and then came to rest on its top, ” Silver said.
The driver was identified as Kent Carlson, 32, of Hesperus. He was taken to Mercy Regional Medical Center with “moderate” injuries.
A woman who witnessed the crash turned around on the highway and drove back to offer assistance, Silver said. She parked her black Jeep Cherokee on the eastbound shoulder facing westbound, he said. She then exited the vehicle to assist Carlson.
The woman was identified as Lori Nightingale, 65, of Mancos.
A second driver in a white Ford F-150 saw the same crash and also turned around to offer assistance. That driver drove past the crash scene and turned around again to park facing the correct direction on the eastbound shoulder – facing front-to-front with the Jeep Cherokee, Silver said.
That driver, identified as Charles Smith, 59, of Mancos, tried to signal for eastbound drivers to slow down as they approached the crash scene, Silver said.
Meanwhile, Nightingale helped the driver of the original crash out of his vehicle and took him to her vehicle for warmth.
About that time, Nightingale, who was not in her vehicle, saw a semitrailer lose control as it came down Hesperus Hill and approached the crash scene.
Nightingale ran to the side of the road to get out of its way, Silver said. The semi jack-knifed, hit the Ford F-150, which pushed it into the Jeep, sending the Jeep a few hundred feet down the road.
The Ford F-150 was pushed off the side of the road and hit Nightingale, resulting in critical injuries, Silver said.
“She was under the F-150 when I arrived,” he said.
Nightingale was taken by Flight For Life to Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs. Efforts to get an update on her condition were unsuccessful Thursday.
Silver recognized the two witnesses were trying to help, but considering road conditions on that stretch of the highway, it was not a good situation.
“They literally took their lives in their hands to intervene and try to help,” he said.
The State Patrol issued two citations: One to Carlson, the driver of the Trailblazer that rolled off the road, who was cited with careless driving; and one to the truck driver, identified as Maverick Dorenkamp, 26, of Cortez, who was cited with careless driving causing injury.