A Durango couple escaped serious injury while driving Sunday on U.S. Highway 550 over Red Mountain Pass when a large piece of ice broke off the mountainside, crushing and totaling their car.
According to the Ouray County Sheriff’s Office, Bradley and Mary Hardin were driving their Toyota SUV south on Highway 550 between Ouray and Silverton when ice and rock debris collapsed from a rock wall near mile marker 90.
Mile marker 90 is just a few miles south of Ouray where the highway is extremely narrow, with a rock wall to one side and a steep drop-off on the other.
The Ouray County Sheriff’s Office received a report about the incident around 3 p.m. Once on scene, officers noted the Toyota was struck multiple times and had its airbags deployed.
Bradley Hardin, who is the principal at Durango Big Picture High School, had an injury on his hand but was otherwise uninjured and did not require transport to a hospital for further care. His wife, Mary, was not injured.
A towing company was contacted to remove the car from the highway and deputies remained on scene to conduct traffic control.
“Bradley and Mary sat in my vehicle to stay warm,” the officer wrote in his report.
The vehicle was removed and deputies took the Hardins to Montrose. The scene was cleared around 6:30 p.m.
Efforts to reach the Hardins Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful.
Lisa Schwantes, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said crews regularly mitigate for ice slabs at risk of falling off rock faces on Red Mountain Pass.