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Minivan rolls 200 feet off cliff near Silverton

Texas couple in stable condition

A vehicle traveling on U.S. Highway 550 near Silverton veered off the road and fell 200 feet down an embankment Wednesday.

The minivan carried a man, 84, and a woman, 79, from Texas when it crashed around 3 p.m. Wednesday at mile marker 68 near a scenic waterfall about 2 miles south of Silverton. Both passengers were in stable condition Thursday, said DeAnne Gallegos, San Juan County spokeswoman.

“What I was told was that they were pulled over at the waterfall, so they did start from that location,” Gallegos said. “(The crash) must’ve been as they were leaving. ... Luckily, some rocks and trees stopped their roll.”

Additional details about the crash were not immediately available Thursday.

About 10 responders from Silverton Ambulance and San Juan County Search and Rescue helped recover the couple from the vehicle, which involved rappelling 200 feet down the embankment.

The woman was taken by Flight For Life to Mercy Regional Medical Center before being sent to the Front Range for additional medical treatment. The man was taken by ambulance to Mercy.

Because of the weather conditions in the area, including lightning and storms, the Flight For Life helicopter picked up the woman from Purgatory Resort, Gallegos said.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado State Patrol also responded to the crash.

Highway 550 closed briefly during the response to allow emergency services to access the scene and extract the patients, Gallegos said.

“Especially on Highway 550, folks are wanting to pull over for scenic views, photos and to look at the waterfalls. Just really pay attention to your surroundings,” Gallegos said.

There are cliff sides, soft shoulders on the road and high traffic, particularly during the tourism season.

“We know we have amazing scenery, and it is a very awe-inspiring landscape. ... Just be hyper-conscious of your surroundings,” she said.

smullane@durangoherald.com

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