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Update: Driver faces charge after New Year’s crash in Dolores River

Highway closed for an hour to recover vehicle

Colorado Highway 145 was briefly closed Jan. 4 between Dolores and Telluride after a work crew recovered a vehicle that had crashed onto the frozen Dolores River near Stoner.

The highway was closed for about one hour in both directions at mile marker 28.5. The site is about 18 miles north of Dolores.

About 6:15 p.m. Jan. 1, a southbound Nissan Titan truck driven by Jeremy Corbitt lost control, crossed the roadway and plunged 80 feet down an embankment and crashed into the river, said Colorado State Patrol Sgt. James Saunders.

The vehicle collided with a large rock before coming to rest upright on the frozen Dolores River. All four occupants were able to exit the vehicle. and one passenger suffered minor injuries, Saunders said. Corbitt was issued a citation for careless driving causing injury. Multiple airbags deployed, and everyone was wearing seat belts.

Rico and Dolores fire departments responded to the accident, as well as the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado State Patrol and Southwest Health System Ambulance.

Rico Fire Chief Todd Jones said about a dozen rescuers used ropes and portable litters to extract the four victims from the canyon. They were all transported to Southwest Memorial. One of the victims reported back pain.

“It went well,” Jones said. “The victims were calm, and the injuries minor. It took no more than 45 minutes to bring them up to the road.”

They had all exited the vehicle by the time first responders arrived, and were wearing jackets.

“They were happy to see us,” Jones said.

Traffic was delayed in both directions during the rescue effort.

The roads were snowpacked and icy, according to the accident report.

The vehicle remained at the site until a tow company and recovery plan could be secured.

A vehicle recovery operation began at 10 a.m. Jan. 4, the Colorado Department of Transportation said, and took about one hour. Traffic was stopped in both directions, and there were long lines of vehicles waiting.

Arrow Towing and Able Towing conducted the recovery. A heavy-duty wrecker from Able Towing deployed a towline to winch it up. The Nissan sustained heavy front-end damage and was loaded onto an Arrow Towing flatbed.

“It went pretty smooth,” said Glenn Brace, of Able Towing. “About midway,it got hung up on some big boulders, but we were able to maneuver it through.”

People waiting to get through had exited their vehicles to watch the scene and take photos with their phones.

“I’m OK with the delay,” said one man on his way to ski in Telluride. “There’s still time to get some turns in, so I’m glad about that.”

jmimiaga@the-journal.com

Jan 27, 2022
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