Hayden student dies in crash on US 40 that seriously injured another | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden student dies in crash on US 40 that seriously injured another

Firefighters and police work the scene of a fatal wreck on U.S. Highway 40 between Craig and Hayden on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. According to Colorado State Patrol, a 1986 Ford F250, not shown, was headed west on U.S. Highway 40 when the pickup crossed into the eastbound lane and collided with a 2014 GMC Sierra, pictured here. A 14-year-old girl inside the Ford died in the wreck.
Eli Pace/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Editor’s note: This report has been updated to reflect that a 64-year-old woman from Hayden was hurt in the wreck.

The Routt County Coroner’s Office confirmed Wednesday, Feb. 22, that Alexis (Lexi) Lighthizer, 14, of Hayden died in a three-car crash on U.S. Highway 40 on Tuesday, Feb. 21. She was pronounced dead at the scene. 

According to Colorado State Patrol, a 1986 Ford F250 was headed west on U.S. Highway 40 when the pickup crossed over into the eastbound lane near mile marker 100 for an unknown reason.

The Ford collided head-on with a 2014 GMC Sierra headed east, causing the Ford to spin out before it ended up facing northeast in the south ditch of the highway. A 2002 Subaru Outback then hit the left side of the GMC Sierra.

The occupants of the Ford included Lighthizer, who was not wearing a seatbelt, and a 54-year-old man also from Hayden. The GMC was occupied by a 64-year-old woman from Hayden, and the Subaru by a 16-year-old boy from Craig. 

According to Colorado State Patrol, the 54-year-old man sustained life threatening injuries, but the 16-year-old’s and the 64-year-old’s injuries were moderate.

Officials with state patrol said they do not believe excessive speed played a factor in the crash.

U.S. Highway 40 has seen three major wrecks, two of which were fatal, in the past three weeks. This is the second death on the highway in February. Cadence Tilton, 20, also died due to injuries sustained during a Feb. 6 car accident.

Investigators with Colorado State Patrol do not suspect drugs or alcohol played a role in any of the wrecks, but they have not yet determined a cause for any of the three wrecks, as the investigations are ongoing.

Following the series of wrecks on the highway, Routt County Sheriff Doug Scherar is encouraging drivers to slow down and be safe. He emphasized a lack of staffing for both the sheriff’s office and Colorado State Patrol make it difficult for authorities to constantly monitor the roads.

“We had three deputies on today to cover 2,400 square miles,” Scherar said. “We cannot be everywhere at once. There’s only so much we can do as far as patrolling that road, especially with the high volume of traffic from Steamboat to Craig.”

Steamboat Springs Interim Chief of Police Mark Beckett also wanted to caution drivers to slow down, especially with the winter weather.

“Warm days followed by cold nights frequently cause dangerous road conditions,” Chief Beckett said. “People might not realize the snow they see melting during the day freezes and turns into black ice at night.”

Hayden Superintendent Christy Sinner said the district will offer counselors and a crisis team.

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