Crash victim struck after leaving vehicle

The seven-vehicle crash that closed westbound Interstate 70 for seven hours Tuesday night east of Palisade was touched off by the only person killed, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

Efrain Holguin-Cervantes, 43, of Rifle, died from multiple injuries when he was struck by a vehicle on the interstate. His death has been ruled an accident by the Mesa County Coroner’s Office.

After a 1998 Dodge Ram pickup crashed into and stopped next to the guard rail on the south side of westbound I-70, Holguin-Cervantes got out of the vehicle and was struck and killed by a vehicle traveling around the blind corner.

Laura Ramsey, 36, of Grand Junction was driving a Kia sedan that struck the pickup and the pedestrian.

Ramsey was one of two people taken by ambulance Tuesday night to St. Mary’s Hospital and was released from the hospital Wednesday. When she was contacted Wednesday afternoon by The Daily Sentinel, she declined to discuss the accident.

The identity of the other person taken to the hospital was not released Wednesday.

The crash occurred just before 7 p.m. Tuesday, and a tractor-trailer was among the vehicles involved. 

The driver of the pickup, Enrique Simental, of Espanola, N.M., was ticketed for careless driving causing bodily injury and failure to provide proof of insurance, the State Patrol said.

Drugs and alcohol are not suspected to have played a role in the crashes, the State Patrol said.

Trooper Ron Greasley said speed was a factor in the crash, which occurred around a corner with a posted 50 mph speed limit, compared with 65 mph on other sections of the winding freeway.

“For whatever reason, people just don’t slow down through De Beque Canyon,” Greasley said.

The blind corner may have made it difficult for drivers to stop quickly, causing a pile-up, he said.

Greasley said it’s common for people to want to get out of their vehicles after a crash to inspect for damages. However, getting out of a vehicle and onto the roadway of an interstate or any other well-traveled road can be dangerous.

“It’s common with the crashes I’ve been on,” Greasley said. “Peoples’ instincts are to look for damages.”


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