Basalt woman struck, killed by RFTA bus near Buttermilk |

Basalt woman struck, killed by RFTA bus near Buttermilk

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

A 29-year-old woman who recently moved to Basalt was struck and killed by a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus early Sunday morning on the outskirts of Aspen.

The victim, Joanie Kocab, had moved to the Roaring Fork Valley from Kansas about two weeks ago, according to Trooper Graham Thorne of the Colorado State Patrol, who responded to the scene. She has a fiance in Basalt, he said.

Kocab was apparently walking upvalley in the Highway 82 bus lane as it approaches the Owl Creek Road intersection, during the early hours of New Year’s Day. There is no bus stop in the immediate vicinity and the area is unlighted, though the weather was clear at the time, the patrol said.

There is no sidewalk along that side of the highway, but the road and shoulder are devoid of snow. A guardrail constricts the shoulder in some areas.

“We’re trying to determine why Ms. Kocab was in the road at that time,” Thorne said. “We believe she was walking east, so she was struck from behind.”

The patrol was notified of the accident at about 2:30 a.m. and found Kocab lying in the middle of the bus lane. She had been run over by the bus, the patrol said, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

An autopsy will be performed; it is unknown whether drugs or alcohol were involved, according to Thorne. The accident remains under investigation.

The patrol has not released the name of the bus driver. “She was pretty shaken up,” Thorne said. No citations have been issued.

Such incidents are traumatic for a driver, said Dan Blankenship, CEO of RFTA. He wasn’t sure how long the driver had been with the bus agency.

There were roughly half a dozen passengers on the bus at the time, Blankenship said. The bus was traveling from Snowmass Village to Aspen.

The passengers were transported into Aspen on another bus. Blankenship said it’s his understanding that a professional counselor was summoned to the scene to assist the driver and passengers.

The bus was impounded by the state patrol, Blankenship said.

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