Accidental deaths 
on Grand Mesa

Two sets of recent deaths on Grand Mesa have been in the news this week, and both of them have been referred to as “accidents.”

The tragic car crash that killed Glen and Linda Eyre at the County Line nordic ski area trailhead Saturday certainly appears to fit that description.

The driver of a Ford Explorer swerved to avoid one vehicle that was turning onto Colorado Highway 65, lost control of his car, then skidded into the County Line parking area and struck the Eyres.

But it’s difficult to consider the deaths of William and Tyler Jensen at Powderhorn Ski Resort last November as accidents, even if the actual cause of death was a rare event known as pediatric hyperthermia and the coroner officially listed the deaths of the two young boys as “accidental.”

After all, the boys’ mother, Heather Jensen, left the two youngsters alone in a vehicle with the engine running for 90 minutes while she met with a friend, according to her own statement to police.

Most people would view that as neglect, not an accident. So, it’s easy to understand why other members of the Jensen boys’ family were upset to learn that District Attorney Pete Hautzinger may not file any charges against Heather Jensen.

Heck, someone who left a dog in his or her car for 90 minutes, allowing it to suffer a fate similar to that of the Jensen boys, would probably be charged with animal cruelty.

We’re not saying a young mother who lost her two sons shortly after losing her husband needs to be sent to prison. But leaving children, ages 2 and 4, alone in a car for 90 minutes is more than a momentary lapse in judgment. Some form of neglect charge seems to be warranted.

As for the death of the Eyres, anger and frustration is understandably directed at bureaucratic delays in constructing an expanded parking lot at the County Line trailhead that would get traffic farther removed from the highway that can become slick with ice..

But funding is always a problem for government agencies, be they federal, state or local. And funding has been the main reason for the delay, according to a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman.

The only good news is that work on the parking area is slated to begin this summer, with the Forest Service working with Mesa and Delta counties and the Grand Mesa Nordic Council on the project. But it is not expected to be completed until 2014.

In the meantime, Nordic Council members and others are right to push for new signage, warning drivers of the congested area, and a possible reduction in the speed limit in that area. Similarly, the family of the Jensen boys is right to push for charges against Heather Jensen.


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