Three killed in Highway 9 collision
GREEN MOUNTAIN RESERVOIR – A Steamboat Springs-area resident faces multiple charges of careless driving causing death following a horrific automobile accident which left three young women dead Thursday morning, Colorado State Police (CSP) said.
The three unseatbelted passengers were thrown from a 1993 Mercury Tracer when their vehicle was struck from behind by a tanker truck while the women attempted to pass another vehicle.
The deceased were southbound on Highway 9 at about 9:15 a.m., about 16 miles north of Silverthorne, when the accident occurred, according to CSP.
Police said the 1999 Kenworth tanker truck, also southbound, pulled into the left lane to pass the Tracer and at least a couple other vehicles when the Tracer also pulled into the passing lane, causing the collision.
The Tracer went out of control, rolling several times onto the east side of the highway.
The Tracer’s driver and another passenger, both wearing seat belts, survived the crash, while three female passengers were ejected in the accident. All five in the car are believed to be seasonal workers from the Czech Republic who had been living in Steamboat Springs, according to the CSP.
One victim was transported by Flight for Life to Denver’s St. Anthony’s Medical Center but died on arrival. A second was pronounced dead after being transported by Summit County Ambulance to the Summit County Medical Center. A third victim died at the scene.
Identities of the accident victims are being withheld pending notification of families, CSP said. Police did say all three of the deceased were aged between 21 and 23.
John Hamming, the Thornton-based driver of the tanker truck, owned by Utah’s Basin Western Trucking company, may also face charges for speeding, according to Capt. Ron Prater, head of the Silverthorne-based CSP detachment.
The accident, which took place near Green Mountain Reservoir, closed traffic on Highway 9 for almost two hours.
“The whole scene was pretty chaotic as usual,” said Prater, who was on the scene. “Traffic ended up being backed up a couple of miles in each direction.”
Prater said the Tracer’s driver and another passenger, both young males, were both wearing seat belts and survived the accident with only minor injuries. After being transported to the Mountain Valley Medical Center in Kremmling for observation, the driver was returned to Summit County and booked, he says. He expects that the CSP will likely press charges including careless driving causing death.
Ambulance crews from Summit County and Kremmling responded to the incident, as well as nine staff members from the Lake Dillon Fire Department.
Prater said officers from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office were also on the scene soon after the accident and were able to make the Flight for Life call.
According to Prater, the accident occurred in a legal passing zone. Prater said he believes lack of seat belts contributed directly to the deaths.
“When you look at the vehicle, you see that the passenger cabin held up pretty much intact – there was very little intrusion in the accident,” Prater said. “If everyone could have been kept in the safety zone, they might have had some minor injuries, but they wouldn’t have been killed. I just keep on hearing so many different opinions on seat belts – but people need to wear them to stay alive.”
Prater said his staff and the Summit County victims’ advocates office are attempting to contact the victims’ next of kin. He expects to release names today.
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