Dramatic drop onto interstate ruled a suicide

Reid Williams
Special to the Daily/Reid Williams Heidi Astuto's Honda Civic fell an estimated 144 feet to Interstate 70 Friday from the Ptarmigan trailhead above, where a state trooper is standing in this image.

SUMMIT COUNTY – A Summit County woman died Friday after her car plunged 144 feet from the Ptarmigan Trail road, down a rock cliff and onto Interstate 70 about a mile east of the Silverthorne exit.Heidi Astuto of Frisco was pronounced dead on the scene at about 12:25 p.m. The cause of death was a suicide, Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson said.

Authorities led by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office are still investigating the scene of the crash. Officials interviewed two passing motorists who reportedly witnessed the plunge.Ptarmigan Trail is a dirt road paralleling the interstate, just east of Silverthorne proper. It provides access to the popular Ptarmigan Forest Service trailhead and the adjacent Ptarmigan neighborhood in unincorporated Summit County.

The four-door Honda Civic traveled forward from the trailhead, over the abrupt precipice of rock cuts made for the highway, rotated 180 degrees and crashed on its roof. Firefighters used hydraulic bladders and extrication equipment to raise the vehicle and remove the body.Numerous agencies responded to the accident, which closed two of the westbound lanes of traffic. The interstate fully opened at 3:30 p.m.

In addition to Colorado State Patrol officers, firefighters from the newly combined Lake Dillon and Snake River departments, Summit County sheriff’s deputies and Summit County Ambulance paramedics, Forest Service officials were called in because the event began at a Forest Service trailhead.Vail, Colorado

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