Passenger takes heroic action after rock smashes into vehicle on Highway 82 |

Passenger takes heroic action after rock smashes into vehicle on Highway 82

A man was severely injured Friday afternoon when a rock smashed into the windshield of his vehicle, but a female passenger prevented greater disaster by gaining control of the SUV and bringing it to a stop, authorities said.

According to witnesses, the GMC Yukon was headed downvalley on Highway 82 in Snowmass Canyon when the rock blasted directly into the driver’s side of the windshield, according to Basalt fire chief Scott Thompson. A female in the front passenger’s seat was able to gain control of the vehicle, put it into neutral and coast to a stop, he said.

The vehicle came to rest 1 mile downvalley from where the rock burst through the windshield, Thompson estimated. The accident occurred in Snowmass Canyon, east of the Old Snowmass Conoco. The vehicle came to rest on the right shoulder of the road between the gas station and the Lazy Glen nursery, he said.

Thompson credited the woman for being able to get the SUV stopped in extremely difficult circumstances. There were five people in the car, including the two adults in the front and three children in the rear seats, he said. None of the children were injured but they were taken to a local hospital as a precaution.

The driver suffered injuries that were “very serious,” Thompson said, and the female passenger “was what I considered walking wounded.”

The accident occurred shortly before 5 p.m. Basalt sent two ambulances and a fire engine to the scene. Troopers from the Colorado State Patrol were on the scene last evening investigating the tragic accident. No information was available on the victims; Thompson said he believed they were from out of state.

Thompson said the rock ended up in the vehicle. It was as big as the base of one of the seats in the Yukon, he said. He described it as the same type of red sandstone common in that type of the canyon. It was unknown if the rock impacted the upvalley lanes before bouncing down to the lower, downvalley lanes.

Rain throughout Thursday evening and into Friday may have loosened the rock from the hillside. Just over two weeks earlier there was an extremely close call when a boulder smashed the front quarter panel of a Land Rover Discovery heading up Fryingpan Road. The couple in the SUV escaped injury even though the boulder knocked the Land Rover down a 30-foot embankment into the Fryingpan River.

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