Two children and a 31-year-old Carbondale woman were seriously injured Wednesday in a head-on collision involving their SUV and a half-ton pickup truck on Highway 82 near Basalt. An infant that was riding in the SUV was uninjured and released to its grandmother, said Cpl. Ivan Alvarado of the Colorado State Patrol on Wednesday night. The victims’ names were not immediately available.
Three other vehicles were involved in the accident after the initial head-on collision of the truck and the SUV, said Scott Thompson, fire chief of Roaring Fork Fire, which received a dispatch call at 7:57 a.m. during the busy morning rush hour for commuters, school buses and those trying to access public transportation. Highway 82 between Willits Lane and Two Rivers Road was closed for almost seven hours as traffic crept slowly along the detour route of the frontage road.
Thompson said five people were initially transported to Aspen Valley Hospital and Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs. The most seriously injured patients, the woman and the two children, were flown to St. Anthony’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital, according to CSP spokesman Alvarado.
He identified the children as a 6-year-old boy and a 9-year-old whose gender wasn’t immediately available. One child suffered “serious, life-threatening injuries” and the other child’s condition was described as stable. Alvarado said the woman’s relationship to both children wasn’t definitely known. Her condition was identified as serious to life threatening and she suffered some broken bones from the accident, Alvarado said.
Distracted driving will be looked at as a possible cause of the crash, according to the CSP.
Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott said the snarl of traffic he and his crews directed onto Two Rivers Road from the accident site near the intersection of Jim Grange Lane and Highway 82 was nonstop from the height of the morning rush hour until after 2:44 p.m., when the detour was lifted by CDOT.
Knott reported “significant backups both eastbound and westbound” on Two Rivers Road most of the afternoon. The Wednesday school early release did not help with the amount of traffic that needed to move through the area, either.
“Two Rivers Road is not built for the volume that 82 carries,” Knott said.
RFTA bus service felt the impact from morning until about 3:30 p.m., said spokeswoman Jamie Tatsuno.
“With traffic moving at a crawl, we ran shuttles to Brush Creek Park & Ride every 15 minutes from Rubey Park and then they would connect with buses heading upvalley” she said.
The accident took place around milepost 22 near the intersection of Jim Grange Lane, identifiable by the eggs for sale sign by the road and also known as a section of past vehicular accidents.
Thompson, of Roaring Fork Fire, described this part of Highway 82 between Basalt and Emma as “a hot area for crashes.”