Florida man seriously injured after his SUV careened off Berthoud Pass | SummitDaily.com

Florida man seriously injured after his SUV careened off Berthoud Pass

Lance Maggart / Sky-Hi News

A Florida driver was seriously injured when the SUV he was driving careened off the side of U.S. Highway 40 on Berthoud Pass on Saturday and tumbled about 400 feet down the mountainside.

Officials from the Colorado State Patrol confirmed that at about 6:08 p.m. Saturday afternoon a black 2000 Ford Explorer driven by a 78-year-old man carrying a Florida driver's license was traveling on Highway 40 on Berthoud Pass, near milepost 238, when his vehicle went off the side of the road.

The Explorer went over a guardrail located near a large pullout above the second switchback from the bottom on the Grand County side of the pass. After going over the edge, the Explorer tumbled down the side of the mountain before coming to a stop in a collection of trees and rocks.

Officials from East Grand Fire District said the vehicle was not visible to passing motorists from the highway above and as a result the accident was not reported by any eyewitnesses. The driver of the vehicle was eventually able to call 911 and provide them with his general location.

First responders, including Grand County EMS, responded to the scene and began looking for the vehicle. According to East Grand Fire Chief Todd Holzwarth, a responding ambulance spotted faint tracks Saturday evening that led searchers to the Explorer. From there a Colorado State trooper climbed down the steep hillside and made contact with the man.

Several of the first responders who assisted with extricating the driver climbed up to the vehicle from below. The driver was the only person in the vehicle at the time of the incident.

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With darkness and the temperature quickly falling, first responders from East Grand Fire, Grand County Search and Rescue, EMS, Grand County's Sheriff's office, and Colorado State Patrol began working to uphaul the man from the wreckage. The first responders utilized a capstan winch system and multiple ropes in the rescue.

 After uphauling the man to a waiting ambulance he was transported to a waiting helicopter and was flown to St. Anthony's Hospital in Lakewood. State Patrol said the man was reported as having "serious bodily injury" at the time of his medical transport.

The vehicle the man was driving was left on the mountainside after the rescue operation. It will be recovered at a later date.