A 5-year-old girl visiting Aspen with her family died Sunday afternoon after being struck by a vehicle in the downtown core, according to the Aspen Police Department.
The driver of the white GMC SUV — allegedly a longtime member of the Aspen community — was turning left from Galena Street onto Hyman Avenue when she hit the child, who was crossing the street with her family, at about 12:30 p.m. As of press time, the Aspen Daily News was unable to confirm the driver’s identity.
The child was transported to Aspen Valley Hospital, where she was pronounced dead from her injuries at 1 p.m. The driver was not charged or taken into custody as of Sunday night because the accident remains under investigation, “and we have not made that kind of decision yet,” said Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn.
A Fox News reporter and her son were at the scene of and heard the accident. The son, Benjamin Baker, 21, of San Francisco, helped extricate the child from beneath the vehicle.
“The driver stopped because everyone was screaming, and she didn’t know what was going on. And then finally she backed up and they could get [the child] out from underneath [the vehicle],” said Claudia Cowan, a West Coast correspondent for Fox News Channel, between tears. “It was really traumatic.”
The Colorado State Patrol responded to the scene to assist with the investigation. Police vehicles surrounded the accident to keep passersby away from the graphic situation.
Nathan Harris, an Aspen resident who was at the scene, said he was standing outside the Ute Mountaineer when he heard screams. Upon realizing there was a child involved, Harris said he immediately ran into the Ute Mountaineer, yelling for a doctor.
“People were looking for anyone to do CPR,” Harris said. “There was just so much disbelief in everyone’s face, including the first responders. My heart goes out to everyone who witnessed the horrific event and I will think about that family for the rest of my life.”
Cowan and Baker echoed that sentiment. The two also said the scene — in the wake of the ski resort and most businesses closing due to the coronavirus — was quiet prior to the incident.
“The whole place was empty. All the stores are closed,” Cowan said.
APD is encouraging people in need of support to reach out to any of the local providers listed on the website aspenstrong.org, including Mind Springs Health at (970) 920-5400 and the Hope Center at (970) 925-5858.
“This is a very sad day,” Linn said Sunday.
In a news release on behalf of the police department, he added: “We ask the community to respect the privacy of the grieving family. We are broken-hearted for all involved and ask everyone in our community to hold each other close in this challenging time.”
Witnesses who observed the accident are asked to call the police department at (970) 920-5858.
The Aspen Daily News will update this story as more information becomes available.