Two women injured after car drops 500 feet off Independence Pass near summit; both airlifted to hospitals
Two women apparently drove off the edge of Independence Pass and fell nearly 500 feet late Thursday night and spent 12 hours in their wrecked car before authorities discovered them, an official said Friday.
A Colorado State Patrol trooper saw the wreckage about 11:30 a.m. Friday after investigating a report of a car off the edge of the first hairpin turn coming down off the summit of the Pass on the Lake County side, said Alex Burchetta, director of operations for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
The trooper climbed down 500 feet and discovered the two women — one in her 50s and the other in her 30s — inside the car and called emergency dispatchers, he said.
Paramedics from Pitkin County and Lake County arrived not long after, assessed the women’s conditions and determined they needed to be helicoptered to nearby hospitals, Burchetta said.
The driver, in her 50s, was most seriously injured and was hauled up the 500 feet steep terrain to Highway 82 and taken by ambulance to the summit, where a Flight for Life helicopter then flew her to a hospital.
The passenger was later hoisted up into a Blackhawk Army National Guard helicopter, flown to the summit and loaded on to a second Flight for Life helicopter and taken for treatment.
Burchetta said he was told the accident occurred about 11:30 p.m. Thursday, though he didn’t know how it happened. He did not have updates on their condition or injuries.
Independence Pass was closed from about 12:30-3:45 p.m. because of the operation, he said.
There has been an increase in vehicles using the pass, which tops out at 12,095 feet, because of the Interstate 70 closure from the Grizzly Creek Fire. The fire started Aug. 10 and motorists and truckers looking for a detour started to create backups and accidents in the days after the fire started.
The section of Highway 82 over the pass closed for two days last week, but reopened Aug. 14 and CDOT has had officials monitoring the volume.
This is a developing story that will be updated.
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