Driver killed after falling from cliffs on Ptarmigan Trail road onto Interstate 70 near Silverthorne |

Driver killed after falling from cliffs on Ptarmigan Trail road onto Interstate 70 near Silverthorne

Jack Queen

A driver died late Thursday morning after plunging more than 100 feet from the cliffs on Ptarmigan Trail Road in Silverthorne. The vehicle rotated in the air and landed on its roof on westbound Interstate 70 about a mile east of the Silverthorne exit. No other fatalities were reported.

A spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol said the cause of the crash was still being investigated and that the vehicular crimes unit was on scene to determine whether or not foul play was involved. Both directions of I-70 were briefly closed but eastbound re-opened around 1:30 p.m., while westbound remained closed until 4 p.m.

Ptarmigan Trail Road parallels the interstate and provides access to popular trailheads and the unincorporated Ptarmigan neighborhood. The stretch of road where the crash occurred is a sharp turn above the highest point of the cliffs directly above the interstate. In 2005, a woman drove directly off the road in the same area at high speed. Investigators ruled that crash a suicide, but in this case they had yet to draw any immediate conclusions.

The accident occurred during the early winter’s heaviest morning of snow yet in Summit County, one that caused chaos on roadways and snarled traffic all across the High Country. Multiple crashes were reported in Summit, including a single-vehicle rollover on east I-70 near exit 205 in Silverthorne and another in the evening near the Summit of Hoosier Pass on Highway 9. The crash on Ptarmigan was the only fatality in Summit, a Colorado State Patrol spokesman said at press time.

Later in the evening, dispatch reported a multi-vehicle accident on Highway 9 near the intersection of Green Mountain Road south of Breckenridge. Both lanes of traffic were closed while vehicles were towed away and salt and sand were applied to the road.

Crashes also closed both lanes on I-70 at the Vail Pass summit for the better part of the afternoon and the traction law was enforced on stretches of I-70 and US Highway 6 on Loveland Pass. Both lanes on I-70 were closed near Evergreen at around 3:15 p.m. after a pile-up that Evergreen Fire Rescue said involved about 20 vehicles.

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