Woman dies in car crash on I-70 exit
A female passenger was killed and a male driver injured after a one-vehicle crash off an Interstate 70 off-ramp early Wednesday morning.
The Mesa County Coroner’s Office identified the woman as Lillian Aiko Cummins, 81, of Fairfield, Calif. Officials determined she died as a result of blunt-force injuries and ruled her death an accident.
The woman had to be extricated from the car and was taken to the hospital, where she died, police said.
The driver, 73-year-old John Gaylord Thomas of California was taken to a local hospital with unknown injuries.
The two were traveling through the area when the vehicle went off the side of the off-ramp at exit 26 and collided with a large backhoe, according to the Grand Junction Police Department.
The off-ramp at U.S. Highway 6&50 was closed for five hours following the 3 a.m. crash, the Police Department said.
Police spokeswoman Kate Porras said the area is well-marked as being a construction zone and the backhoe is located about 60 feet off the roadway. By law, construction crews only have to locate construction equipment about 20 feet off a roadway, Porras said. Investigators still are determining the reason for the crash, she said.
Road construction crews are working on U.S. 6&50 to create traffic improvements to accommodate two large truck stops on opposite sides of the highway. A road configuration called a diverging diamond interchange will allow traffic to more easily access the interstate and reduce wait times on the highway construction officials have said.
As part of the project, nearby 22 Road also is under construction to be realigned.
Starting today, 22 Road will be closed for two months to through traffic between U.S. 6&50 and H Road. Crews are constructing a box culvert across the Persigo Wash area. 22 Road also will be closed at a new box culvert near 84 Lumber. The business can be accessed from the north via H Road or from a temporary driveway on the south side of the site at 84 Lumber.
In the coming weeks, the intersection of Valley Court and U.S. 6&50 will be closed to traffic as crews rebuild the intersection.
Motorists should use a new connector road running between 22 Road and Valley Court to access that area.
The 22 Road realignment project should be completed by December, according to the city of Grand Junction.