Rabbit Ears Pass reopened following crash
Steamboat Springs — A man was flown from Rabbit Ears Pass to a Front Range hospital after being critically injured in a head-on crash Thursday morning.
The crash occurred about 5 a.m. on the east side of the pass near mile marker 155. U.S. Highway 40 was then closed until about noon.
The names of the drivers involved were not being released.
According to a news release, a blue Chevrolet pickup truck, being driven by a Grand Junction man, was going east on U.S. 40 when the driver lost control on slick roads while going around a right-hand curve.
The truck slid into the westbound lane where it collided head-on with a US Foods semi truck. The driver of the semi was not injured, and the pickup was heavily damaged.
“The intrusion of the pickup was amazing,” Steamboat Fire Rescue Capt. Michael Arce said.
The force of the crash pushed the semi backward.
The temperature at the crash scene was -13 degrees, and the pickup was mangled.
That made the job difficult for both Kremmling and Steamboat Springs firefighters as they worked to extricate the man from the pickup. The extrication took 2 1/2 hours, and Arce said the driver was awake and talking the entire time.
“It had him so pinned inside, it was difficult to get him out,” Arce said. “We were doing everything we could.
It was difficult to keep the man warm, and firefighter Troy Kuhl was assigned to talk and listen to the injured driver.
“Hear things like, ‘I’m scared, and I going to die,?” Arce said. “Things he had to hear for awhile, and he did an excellent job.”
The driver of the pickup was then airlifted by Classic Air Medical.
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Steamboat Springs part-time resident David Dennis is approaching the third-year mark from when his right leg was amputated below the knee.