Mountain Lion struck in early morning South Canyon crash

Alex Zorn

Rifle resident Crystal Williams was driving on Interstate 70 to get to her job in Aspen early Tuesday morning when a mountain lion jumped over the concrete divider and hit her vehicle dead center. Her only memory after the collision is the cops arriving to the scene.

She said the Colorado State Patrol officers and medical personnel she’s talked to said that if the mountain lion was just a few inches higher, it would have gone right through her windshield.

She said it was fully extended when she hit it.

The accident happened near the South Canyon exit on I-70 around 5:45 a.m., Williams said.

Williams sustained several injuries in the crash, including broken ribs and soft tissue damage, but she feels fortunate it was not worse. Despite her injuries and totaled vehicle, she said her first thought was whether or not the animal suffered.

Colorado State Patrol said a deceased mountain lion was found at the scene of the accident.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Public Information Officer Mike Porras said there is no way of knowing if the animal was displaced due to the recent wildfires in the area. He said it is pretty typical for mountain lions to be active in the morning and cautioned drivers against panicking while steering.

“When you’re driving and wildlife is most active, that’s when you need to be most prepared,” he added.

Another minor accident occurred later in the morning during clean-up of the accident on eastbound I-70 near the river pullout between the New Castle and Canyon Creek exits, causing some traffic delays, according to the State Patrol.

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