Errant vehicle kills 2 at trail head on mesa

Two pedestrians were killed in an accident Saturday morning at a popular snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trail head on Grand Mesa, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

It happened about 11:30 a.m. when a 2003 Subaru Outback headed south on Colorado Highway 65 pulled onto the right shoulder to let other southbound vehicles go by, according to State Patrol spokeswoman Cpl. Heather Cobler.

The driver of the Outback then made a left turn from the right shoulder in front of a Ford Explorer, which was headed north. The turn caused the Explorer to lose control, swerve into a parking area at the County Line winter trail head and strike the two pedestrians and a parked 2012 Buick sport utility vehicle, Cobler said.

Unlike other parking areas on the mesa that extend away from the highway, the County Line trail head lot is an elongated pullout that runs alongside the northbound side of the roadway.

The pedestrians, whose identities have not yet been released, died at the scene. No one else was injured, and an investigation is ongoing.

The parking lot is a popular place for cross-country skiers and snowshoers and is almost always packed with vehicles this time of year, said area resident Jim Forbes, who was in the lot that morning with friends.

He had just returned from a brief run when he came upon several other people trying to resuscitate the two pedestrians, whom Forbes described as an elderly couple in their 70s.

“We got to the parking lot and there was a guy doing chest compressions on a body. I thought, ‘What is up with that?’ ” he said, also helping to try to revive the two. “There was a guy there who said he was a doctor, and another who was some kind of medical staffer. By that point, they had kind of taken a back seat because they knew we were working on dead people.

“Basically, at that point it was us little guys doing the chest compressions and trying to see if something miraculous would happen.”

Forbes said that while the highway was mostly clear and dry, the lot was snowpacked, making it extremely icy.

He later went to help others get traffic to slow down when ambulances and police officials from Mesa and Delta counties arrived.

Forbes said he’s often wondered about the safety of the lot, being so close to the road, particularly when it becomes full, as it was Saturday morning.

Forbes said there were 30 to 40 vehicles parked there at the time.

“It’s a horrible parking lot,” he said. “There’s never any room and there’s always somebody trying to park on the other side of the street. It’s a rough one.”

Forbes also said he spoke with the man driving the Explorer.

“The kid that was driving the Explorer, he was still there,” Forbes said. “The thing that he said that struck me was, he said, ‘I should have just hit that car (the Outback). It would have been better to hit the car.’”


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