Car destroys closed winter gate, opens Maroon Creek Road | PostIndependent.com

Car destroys closed winter gate, opens Maroon Creek Road

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times
Half of the winter closure gate on Maroon Creek Road lays in the ditch beside the road Tuesday after a car crashed into it and inadvertely opened the closed road to traffic. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

A speeding car on Tuesday morning crashed into and destroyed part of the winter closure gate on Maroon Creek Road, officials said.

The incident temporarily opened the road to the Maroon Bells to vehicle traffic, though it officially closed Friday for the winter, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Voss said.

Witnesses said the crash occurred about 10:30 a.m. and involved a black-colored sedan — possibly a Subaru — that hit the heavy steel gate and sheared off the steel post that held the gate in the ground without even trying to stop, he said.

“There were no skid marks,” Voss said. “That tells me there has to be significant damage to any car that hit it.”

Voss found debris at the scene indicating the car was black in color, he said.

Witnesses said the car’s driver turned around after hitting the gate, fled the scene and had not filed an accident report as of Tuesday afternoon, Voss said. The deputy called Aspen Valley Hospital as well as area towing companies and body shops Tuesday in an effort to track down the vehicle, but to no avail, he said.

He said he encountered several cars with both locals and tourists inside coming down from the Maroon Bells, and they didn’t know the road was officially closed. While the gate on the lane heading downvalley remained closed, the gate on the other side was lying beside the road and could not be seen, making it appear the road was open, Voss said.

By the time Voss arrived, an employee of T-Lazy 7 Ranch had parked a truck across the road to prevent other vehicles from accessing the Maroon Bells, he said.

The winter closure gate featured a large “Road Closed” sign in the middle and should have been hard to miss, said Scott Mattice, the county’s road and bridge director. Voss speculated the sun might have blinded the driver.

“It should be pretty obvious,” Mattice said. “How did someone run into our gate? What in the world happened up there?”

One of his employees said the gate was in pieces and had been completely sheared off from the post that held it up upright, Mattice said. Workers installed a large temporary closure sign, though it was not secure, he said.

Mattice estimated the gate weighs between 200 and 300 pounds and is made of 4-inch-square steel tubing.

“It sounds like there’s a Subaru somewhere with some front-end damage,” he said.

It will cost about $5,000 to replace, though Mattice said he was confident his employees could weld it back together Wednesday for the winter. It will likely have to be rebuilt next year, he said.

In the meantime, Mattice and Voss urged residents to respect the road closure.

Voss asked those with information about the car that hit the gate to call the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office at 970-920-5300.

jauslander@aspentimes.com


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