A pedestrian who was struck and killed by a vehicle Tuesday night south of Cortez has been identified as Elijah “Eli” Cantsee of Towaoc.
Cantsee, 19, was in the southbound lane of traffic on South Broadway near Chronic Therapy when he was hit by a southbound pickup truck and semitrailer, said Cortez Police Department Lt. Andy Brock.
Cantsee was facing north when struck, and he died of blunt force trauma at the scene, said Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers. Two citizens who were driving nearby attempted to assist him.
Police responded to a report of someone walking in the road at that location when they heard a report of the crash over the police radio, Brock said.
Both vehicles that struck Cantsee stopped and waited for police. The drivers volunteered to take a Breathalyzer test, and both registered negative for alcohol. No citations were issued.
Victim advocates were on the scene to offer assistance to the drivers, who were passing through the area.
An autopsy and toxicology test was conducted on Cantsee, and the results are pending, said Deavers.
It is not clear where Cantsee was coming from, or where he was going when he was struck, Brock said. He was not in a crosswalk. The investigation is ongoing.
Cantsee was a student at Montezuma-Cortez High School.
The speed limit is 55 mph where the fatality occurred.
U.S. Highway 160/491 was closed in both directions for at least two hours while the scene was investigated, Brock said. It reopened about 11 p.m.
The Cortez Police Department, Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, the Cortez Fire Protection District and the Colorado State Patrol responded to the scene.
The area of highway is frequented by pedestrians. In April, pedestrian Geraldine Castilleja was killed in a hit-and-run along the same stretch of road.
“It is a tough place to be walking at night,” Brock said. “When walking at night, wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight.”
State highway lighting is managed by the Colorado Department of Transportation.
According to CDOT Traffic & Safety Manager, Julie Constan, for state highways within incorporated municipalities, it is the responsibility of the city or town to request lighting from CDOT and the municipality covers the costs.
Outside of incorporated areas, it is also the responsibility of the county to request lighting features, she said. Once the need is identified, CDOT works with the county to cost-share the installation, then the ongoing power needs and costs are the responsibility of the county. Solar power sources are encouraged.
A service for Cantsee will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Ertel Memorial Chapel. Ermino Freeman will officiate, and internment will follow at Blanding Cemetery in Utah. To send condolences, visit ertelfuneralhome.com.