Lack of seatbelts, impairment leading contributors to 2017 crash deaths |

Lack of seatbelts, impairment leading contributors to 2017 crash deaths

A Routt County Sheriff's officer investigates the scene of a head-on crash that killed Hayden resident Edwin “Ed” Zaledzieski.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County fatal car crash statistics from 2017 show that a majority of the deaths were preventable.

For the second consecutive year, five people died in fatal crashes in Routt County, and 2017 and 2016 were the deadliest years on local roads since 2009.

In three of the five fatal crashes from 2017, the drivers were impaired by either drugs or alcohol.

“It’s higher than the state statistics and higher than the national average,” Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said.

Four of the five people who died were not wearing seat belts.

“It’s really high and also significantly above the state and national average, which is usually about one in three,” Elliott said. “It’s amazing to me that people don’t wear seat belts.”

In the past decade, about 45 percent of the fatal crashes in Routt County have involved drugs or alcohol, according to statistics compiled by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

In all of Colorado, 620 people died in fatal crashes in 2017, an increase of 2.5 percent over the previous year. Of the 2017 Colorado deaths, 37 percent were related to impairment.

“As always, wear a seatbelt,” Elliott said. “They’ll save your life, and don’t drive impaired.”

2017 fatal crash summary

April 18

Deputy coroner identifies fatal crash victim

Longtime resident Robert Dickey, 54, was driving a septic tank pump truck on Routt County Road 16 when it went off the road about a half mile from the Morrison Cove boat ramp at Stagecoach Reservoir.

Dickey’s truck approached a curve, and the truck continued straight off the road. It went down a steep embankment and rolled one and a half times before landing on the roof.

Dickey was the only fatal crash victim wearing a seatbelt, and he was impaired by alcohol.

June 27

Coroner identifies Hayden man killed in early-morning crash

Hayden resident Todd Edwards, 42, was driving his 2008 Jeep Wrangler when he hit an elk crossing U.S. Highway 40 about 15 miles west of Steamboat.

The crash was reported shortly before 1 a.m.

The Jeep went off the left side of the road and off a very steep cliff. The Jeep rolled down the cliff and landed on the railroad tracks.

Edwards was ejected from the Jeep.

He was not wearing a seatbelt and was impaired by drugs.

Aug. 8

20-year-old Craig man dies from injuries sustained in Saturday rollover west of Hayden

Craig resident Corban Shipman, 20, was on his way from Craig to Steamboat Springs with his family to celebrate his 20th birthday when the rollover crash occurred at about 5 p.m. a few miles west of Hayden on U.S. 40.

Shipman was a passenger in the Dodge Ram truck, which hydroplaned and then rolled two and a half times.

The crash occurred when the driver tried to pass another vehicle on the wet roads.

Four of the six people in the car were wearing seat belts, but Corban was not and was ejected.

Shipman’s stepfather was also not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected. He was severely injured.

Aug. 12

Memorial service planned Saturday for 2012 Steamboat grad killed in crash

Michael Baumgartner, a 2012 graduate of Steamboat Springs High School, rolled his car at Routt County roads 33 and 33B.

Baumgartner was partially ejected and killed.

The crash was reported at 2:55 a.m.

Baumgartner was not wearing a seatbelt, and alcohol was suspected of contributing to the crash.

Oct. 20

Hayden man dies after Oct. 20 crash, services pending

Hayden resident Edwin “Ed” Zaledzieski, 67, died Oct. 26 after hitting a semi-truck head on shortly after 2 p.m. Oct. 20 about two miles east of Hayden on U.S. 40.

Zaledzieski was driving west in a Ford pickup when he veered off the right side of the road and overcorrected when coming back onto U.S. 40.

The pickup swerved into the path of oncoming traffic and was struck by a Kenworth semi-truck.

Zaledzieski was not impaired but was not wearing a seat belt.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

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