One person died Thursday night on U.S. Highway 160/491 south of Cortez after a semitrailer and pickup truck collided on the McElmo Creek bridge, law enforcement officers said.
According to a Colorado State Patrol press release, the driver of a 1969 Ford pickup, Cortez resident Alfonso Rascon, 72, died after being transported to Southwest Memorial Hospital with critical injuries.
He also was treated at the scene, said Jay Balfour, chief of the Cortez Fire Protection District.
According to emergency scanner traffic, the crash occurred about 5:45 p.m. Three vehicles were involved, but the pickup driver was identified as the victim about 9 p.m.
CSP was still investigating the crash as of 8 a.m. Friday, but the initial investigation concluded that the pickup was northbound toward Cortez when it drove into the oncoming lane and collided with a white 2013 Kensworth semitrailer.
The CSP press release states the pickup rotated and collided with a guardrail on the west side of the road. A tire detached from the semitrailer and struck a 2017 Subaru Impreza in the northbound lane. The drivers of the semi and Subaru were not injured.
Drugs, alcohol and excessive speed were not considered factors, according to CSP.
A wide-load truck hauling a house or shed was parked in front of the crashed pickup in the southbound lane. CSP has not stated if that vehicle was involved.
Both lanes of the highway were closed until 10:55 p.m., according to Lisa Schwantes, of the Colorado Department of Transportation. Cortez Police officers turned back drivers at the “Y” junction at U.S. 160 and 491 in Cortez, and northbound drivers near the scene were diverted eastbound on County Road G.
Balfour told The Journal that the section of highway at the bridge was narrow and he hoped that the crash could prompt some changes there.
Colorado State Patrol, Cortez Fire Protection District, Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office and Southwest Health System EMS, responded to the scene at 5:58 p.m.