Police ID driver in fatal crash

Rachel E. Counts of De Beque, a 19-year-old mother of a 2-year-old, was driving a Dodge Durango when she died Tuesday night in a crash near De Beque.

The toddler, the only occupant who was strapped into the vehicle with safety restraints, was taken by helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Denver after sustaining serious injuries, Colorado State Patrol Trooper Ryan Reed said.

Four of the five passengers were taken to hospitals for their injuries after the 6:30 p.m. crash in which the Durango slammed into a tractor-trailer on the De Beque Frontage Road.

The father of a passenger in the crash said Counts was the child’s mother.

Passengers also included Toney Oaks, 25, of Grand Junction; Nathan Strohm, 24, of De Beque, and Wayne Batty, 18, of De Beque. On Wednesday, Oaks and Batty were listed in fair condition, and Strohm was listed in serious condition, according to Samantha Moe, spokeswoman for St. Mary’s Hospital.

A 15-year-old boy was released after authorities determined he was not injured, Reed said.

Counts was heading west on the Frontage Road when the Durango slammed into the tractor-trailer, which was making a left-hand turn. Semi driver Kraig Keltner, 52, of Palisade, was not injured.

Witnesses at the scene of the crash reported the Durango was traveling about 70 mph down the two-lane road. Counts, who was thrown from her vehicle upon impact, smelled of alcohol, and there were bottles of alcohol inside the vehicle, said State Patrol Sgt. Scott Simons, who investigated the crash.


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