Top 5 most-read stories last week: Canyon crashes, John Doe ID’d, weather and water rights |

Top 5 most-read stories last week: Canyon crashes, John Doe ID’d, weather and water rights

A semi truck collision resulted in a 12-hour closure of Interstate 70 in the Glenwood Canyon on Jan. 30, 2023.
Colorado Department of Transportation/Courtesy photo

Editor’s note: Stories in this list received the most page views on from March 12-18.

1. CDOT pins down reason for so many crashes in Glenwood Canyon

The Colorado Department of Transportation has been assessing crashes in Glenwood Canyon and along Interstate 70 to figure out the main times, causes and locations of each incident.

What they found was that all of the crashes in the canyon were due to speeding. Meanwhile, 22% of canyon closures were due to collisions with commercial motor vehicles, according to Elise Thatcher, CDOT’s region three communications manager.

Earlier this year, CDOT originally reported 197 partial or full closures, with at least 70 of them involving commercial motor vehicles. After assessing and cross checking data, their data set showed lower numbers. 

Although CDOT found that commercial motor vehicles were only at fault for 22% of the canyon closure, they are the ones that create the longest and most expensive closures for the canyon. 

— Glenwood Springs Post-Independent

2. Colorado’s Independence Pass ‘John Doe,’ found in 1970, identified as lost legendary skier Gardner Smith

A body found in the tundra atop Colorado’s Independence Pass in 1970 has been identified as legendary ski racer Gardner Paul Smith, a Beat-era adventurer who, before he went missing at age 39, was revered as a free-and-easy companion.

Smith’s exhumed remains sat for years in the Leadville office of a former coroner until last month when Colorado Bureau of Investigation forensic genetic analysts finally identified the remains using a DNA sample and genealogical sleuthing.

The CBI breakthrough begins to resolve a long-running Colorado high country mystery: the identity of the body found in June 1970 atop Independence Pass, which closes during winter, and what happened. An arm and parts of ribs were missing from the corpse, which was cloaked in a sweatshirt, khaki trousers, multiple-layered socks with an unworn sock pulled over the left shoe, and $7 with a razor in a pocket. The body likely had been out all winter in the snow, authorities concluded from its location and condition, after a state snowplow driver found it under rocks along switch-backs just east of the 12,095-foot summit.

— The Denver Post

3. ‘The unfavorable pattern is gone’: La Nina is over, but what does that mean for Summit County’s ski areas, snowpack and rafting? Meteorologists weigh in.

La Nina brought pessimistic forecasts ahead of Colorado’s ski season this year, but its three-year reign over the U.S. is over, for now, climatologists say. 

The global phenomenon historically means less snow for the Centennial State since storms often track north of Colorado’s mountains during La Nina, meteorologist Chad Gimmestad said, but as temperatures continue to change in the Pacific Ocean and the jet stream begins to drop toward the lower half of the U.S., Colorado could see a shift in its weather. 

Central Colorado, including Summit County, lies somewhere in the middle between the two major weather patterns, so it’s tough to tell what the shift will mean locally, Gimmestad said, but since “the best snow” often falls above Colorado during La Nina years, the shift away from La Nina is often applauded by Coloradans.

Andrew Maciejewski

4. Colorado Springs seeks to keep water rights tied to dams and reservoirs. The town of Breckenridge and Summit County government oppose the move.

A Front Range water provider is entering its eighth year of trying to keep water rights alive for three small reservoirs in the headwaters of the Blue River in Summit County to take more water from the Western Slope.

Colorado Springs Utilities has been mired in water court since 2015, fighting for its conditional water rights, which date to 1952 and are tied to three proposed reservoirs: Lower Blue Lake Reservoir, which would be built on Monte Cristo Creek with a 50-foot-tall dam and hold 1,006 acre-feet of water; Spruce Lake Reservoir, which would be built on Spruce Creek with an 80- to 90-foot-tall dam and hold 1,542 acre-feet; and Mayflower Reservoir, which would also be built on Spruce Creek with a 75- to 85-foot-tall dam and hold 618 acre-feet.

The water rights case has eight different opposers, including the town of Breckenridge; Summit County; the Colorado River Water Conservation District; agricultural and domestic water users in the Grand Valley; the Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District; and a private landowner who has mining claims in the area. Most of the opposers say they own water rights in the area that may be adversely impacted if the Blue River project’s conditional rights are granted.

— Aspen Journalism

5. Skier paralyzed in crash at Copper Mountain Resort

A skier is paralyzed below her shoulders after crashing into a tree at Copper Mountain, her friends said. 

Anna Buhrmann is from Germany and goes to school at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, where she plays field hockey. She came to Colorado with two friends for a spring break ski trip the week of March 6. 

One of her friends said Buhrmann hit a tree while skiing and had to be flown to the hospital for emergency spine surgery. She was still in the ICU as of March 14. 

— 9News

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