Lifelong resident James Melvin in critical condition after wreck |

Lifelong resident James Melvin in critical condition after wreck

SILVERTHORNE – Lifelong Summit County resident James Melvin is in critical care in the surgical unit at St. Anthony’s Central Hospital in Denver after his car crashed into a highway department front-end loader on westbound Interstate 70 in Clear Creek County early Sunday.

Melvin, 37, was able to open his eyes and wiggle his index fingers Sunday, his mother, Mary Jo, said.

“It was like he could hear us, that he knew we were there,” she said. Monday, a nurse “said he isn’t doing anything,” Mary Jo said.

During the crash, Melvin’s left arm, femur, tibia and shoulder were shattered. He also suffered a collapsed lung and is on a ventilator to help him breathe. Melvin’s brother, Eric, said chips of bone have gotten into Melvin’s bloodstream, and doctors inserted a device in his abdomen to filter out those pieces.

A specialist was summoned to evaluate brain injuries Melvin might have suffered.

Melvin, a Summit High School graduate, has been a mechanic for the town of Silverthorne for almost 13 years.

He also directs the county’s youth wrestling program and is assistant coach of the Summit High School wrestling team.

“We’re all really shook up,” said Silverthorne Town Manager Kevin Batchelder. “He’s really well-liked around town hall, and we’re all just praying for his quick recovery.”

Melvin had been visiting friends in Denver Saturday and was heading home on westbound I-70 about a mile west of Silver Plume around 3:30 a.m. when he crashed into the loader.

The Colorado Department of Transportation front-end loader was removing snow along I-70, and had just done a U-turn, crossing from the eastbound to westbound lanes.

It had already driven into the right lane of the westbound interstate when Melvin’s 1990 Eagle Talon crashed into it broadside, according to the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) .

Rescuers used the Jaws of Life to remove Melvin from the totaled car, work that took about three hours. Westbound I-70 was closed during the rescue.

Additionally, an avalanche spilled across a small portion of I-70 just a few yards west, CSP officers said. While the avalanche wasn’t major, it shut down power to many parts of Clear Creek County, including the sheriff’s office and slowed the rescue, said Cpl. Ken Nelson.

Melvin has an 8-year-old daughter, Lindsay, who is staying with her mother, Karen, in Wildernest.

Alcohol is not a suspected factor in the accident, Nelson said.

Family members ask friends to wait a few days before they try to visit Melvin in the hospital.

Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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