Snow stirs up flurry of crashes |

Snow stirs up flurry of crashes

Two injured in rush-hour rollover; no other injuries reported

Melinda Dudley

Seven inches of snowfall blanketed Routt County on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the most significant snowfall yet of this year's coming winter. Accidents popped up throughout the area Wednesday, and Colorado State Patrol officials urged drivers to drive slowly and be careful.

— The first significant snow of the season in Steamboat Springs began falling Tuesday night, and the season’s fender-benders began shortly thereafter, according to Routt County law enforcement.

The Steamboat Ski Area recorded 7 inches of snowfall overnight Wednesday, and the flakes continued to fall through the evening, snarling traffic on the highway and railroad.

A one-vehicle rollover accident shortly before 5 p.m. halted Routt County train traffic for about an hour and slowed U.S. Highway 40 commuters west of Steamboat II.

A gray Ford F250 heading west lost control on the icy highway and skidded off the opposite side of the road, rolling 1 1/4 times before coming to rest adjacent to the train tracks on its side, Colorado State Patrol Trooper Brett Hilling said.

Driver Marco G. Sanchez, 18, of Evans, was transported to the hospital via ambulance, along with an unidentified passenger. He was cited for careless driving.

“The road is a solid sheet of ice,” Hilling said.

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The weather also caused numerous fender-benders across the county, especially during the morning commute. On Wednesday, the Colorado State Patrol responded to so many accidents that troopers could barely keep up, Hilling said.

It started with a one-vehicle, noninjury rollover on Colorado Highway 131 near Toponas, shortly after 1 a.m., Hilling said.

“And it didn’t stop all day today,” Hilling said. “At one point, we had seven crashes pending, while our troopers were already at other crashes.”

Still, no injuries were reported across the county, Hilling said Wednesday afternoon.

Steamboat Springs police responded to four noninjury accidents between 5:40 a.m. and the time the roads cleared, about 10 a.m., Capt. Joel Rae said.

“It was a little slick out there,” Rae said.

Snowfall in Routt County was expected to taper off Wednesday night, lingering into Thursday at higher elevations around the Continental Divide, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

“The heaviest stuff should be winding down this evening,” meteorologist Troy Lindquist said Wednesday.

The weather is forecast to remain cool but clear, with daytime highs in the 40s, until the next storm system rolls into the Yampa Valley on Sunday.

“We got a good shot of cold air with this current storm system, so we won’t have the warmer temperatures we’ve been having,” Lindquist said.

Hilling reminded drivers to be careful on the roads, given the change in weather and road conditions.

“Slow down,” Hilling said. “Every year’s the same.”

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Rescuers called to California Park

Routt County Search and Rescue members were looking for an unidentified man in California Park on Wednesday night.

A crew of seven set out for the Quaker Mountain area at about 5 p.m., Search and Rescue member Darrel Levingston said.

It was unknown whether the man had any injuries, Search and Rescue member Jo Richards said.

Search and Rescue suspected he was an overdue hunter, but they were unable to confirm, she said.