A 63-year-old man from Arizona driving a GMC pickup truck was killed in a head-on collision with 10-wheel tar tanker at 6:19 p.m. Tuesday on Colorado Highway 145 at mile marker 30, near Taylor Creek.
Following notification of next of kin, the Colorado State Patrol identified the deceased victim as Jerold Lunsford, of Flagstaff. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death and if any medical issues led to the crash, said Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers.
The crash occurred at mile marker 30, near Taylor Creek road. Investigators suspect that northbound Lunsford was traveling at an “excessive speed” and lost control around a curve, said CSP Trooper Gary Cutler, public information officer. He then over corrected, rotated, traveled into the southbound lane and collided with the tanker. Lunsford was wearing a seat belt, and no drugs or alcohol are suspected. No passengers were in the pickup.
The driver of the southbound tanker, Adrian Valdez, 47, of Grand Junction, suffered minor injuries and was transported by ambulance to Southwest Memorial Hospital where he was treated and released. He was wearing a seat belt.
Skid marks were present at the crash site near Taylor Creek northeast of Dolores and south of Rico.
Brett Hensley of Grand Junction, a friend of Lunsford, said he was headed to Telluride for the Bluegrass Festival.
“He was a part of our group that camps every year. He was the elder of the group,” Hensley said.
“We call the camp, Camp Run-A-Muck. We camp every year. He loved to cook, and he would set up audio to play music. We will miss his sourdough pancakes,” Hensley said.
The highway was closed for several hours while the incident was investigated. One lane was reopened for alternating traffic at 10:39 p.m. and the road was completely opened at 11:16 p.m.
Multiple agencies responded to the crash including the Dolores Fire Department, West Fork Volunteer Fire Department, Rico Fire Department, Cortez Fire Protection District, Montezuma County Sheriff Office, Colorado State Patrol, Southwest Health System ambulance, Montezuma County coroner, and the Colorado Department of Transportation.