Cottonwood Pass temporarily closes after vehicle rollover late Wednesday night
Both vehicle passengers are safe after the vehicle rolled 300 to 400 feet down a steep embankment
A little before midnight on Wednesday, law enforcement responded to a vehicle crash on Cottonwood Pass.
It occurred after the driver, heading eastbound on Cottonwood, moved too far on the right side of the road to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass, according to Colorado State Patrol Trooper Jacob Best.
Best said the driver moved “too far over to the side of the road when she was driving” as one or two cars approached going to the other direction and “slowly drove off the side of the roadway, and [the vehicle] rolled because of the steep embankment.”
The vehicle moved nearly 300 to 400 feet down the embankment through oak and sagebrush, with the steep terrain and gravity playing a big factor, according to Best.
“It was more or less the terrain and that steep slope that caused the vehicle to go down that embankment,” he said.
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Gypsum Fire, Eagle County Paramedics Service, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado State Patrol responded to the scene and were able to locate the vehicle’s driver and passenger, both adults, who were able to safely get out of the vehicle before the first responders arrived.
The driver of the vehicle sustained minor injuries and was taken to Vail Health as a precautionary measure. The vehicle’s passenger sustained no injuries.
According to Best, Colorado State Patrol does not believe speed, alcohol, drugs or road conditions were a factor in the crash.
The driver was issued a citation for driving without a driver’s license and “potentially failing to drive in the designated roadway,” Best said.
The driver and passenger are both local to Edwards and were driving eastbound on the pass from Glenwood back to Edwards.
Cottonwood Pass was closed temporarily for around 45 minutes for the initial response on the roadway.
“Once they got on scene, determined that there were only two occupants (and) relocated to a safe location, then they opened it right back up,” Best said, adding that with the I-70 closure and recent rain that the trooper “decided to collect the information that he needed at the scene and will recover that vehicle at a later date and time when it’s safe to do so and does not impact that route.”
In recent weeks, Cottonwood Pass has seen an increase in traffic as I-70 remains partially closed through Glenwood Canyon. I-70 has been closed for weeks as the Colorado Department of Transportation works to clear debris and repair damage following mudslides from the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar. With Mother Nature in charge, these closures are expected to continue as officials plan to close I-70 whenever a flash flood watch is issued.
Best said Colorado State Patrol, alongside the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Eagle County Road and Bridge employees, is doing its best to keep it open for local traffic.
Best noted that as a result of the I-70 closures, calls for service on Cottonwood increased, including traffic complaints, DUI’s and motor vehicle crashes. However, he added, it is expected for any roadway that sees a higher-than-normal volume of traffic.
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.