Camping trip turns fatal

Members of the Colorado State Patrol, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department and Mesa County Coroner’s Office survey the scene of a fatal accident that occurred about 8 p.m. Friday off Divide Road in southern Mesa County.

A planned camping expedition near Gateway turned tragic for an extended family when its vehicle slid off a sheer cliff, killing one of the vehicle’s three occupants Friday night.

Two others in the sport utility vehicle were injured.

One was taken to a Grand Junction hospital by CareFlight, and the other was taken to a hospital by ambulance, according to a Colorado State Patrol trooper at the scene.

According to a distraught family member at the accident scene, her grandmother and grandfather, and her brother visiting from Oregon, were in the vehicle, which was headed uphill on Divide Road, a packed dirt road that leads into the wilderness off Colorado Highway 141.

Family members said it appeared the vehicle’s driver saw a rockfall and attempted to swerve around it, but the vehicle rolled off the cliff end over end, landing about 50 feet downhill.

Troopers said Friday night that they did not know who was killed in the accident.

Police dispatch reports indicated one person sustained spinal-cord injuries and another was bleeding from the head.

Campers hauling horses and all-terrain vehicles in trailers were stalled along the main access road for at least two hours after the 8 p.m. accident.

Johnathan Burt, 19, sat on the hood of his truck and prayed for the family while waiting as rescue crews worked. He was headed up the road to meet friends to camp for the weekend.

Burt said a paramedic who lives just down the hill from the accident site was summoned and raced to scene.

The paramedic stabilized the injured family members and coordinated the helicopter rescue, Burt said.

“To tell you the truth, I cried,” Burt said. “I know what it’s like to lose someone you love.”


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