Red Cliff crash injures man, tests skills of local first responders
Rescue involved roping down a 200-foot cliff, in the dark, during a snowstorm
A 43-year-old man from Superior suffered serious injuries Sunday in a single-vehicle crash near Red Cliff.
According to Trooper Josh Lewis of the Colorado State Patrol, the accident was reported at about 3:35 a.m. Sunday at mile post 153 on U.S. Highway 24. The man’s vehicle, a 2015 Jeep Wrangler, reportedly went off the road after striking the guardrail “several times” before going over a cliff and landing about 200 feet below the roadway.
The Eagle River Fire Protection District received a call for assistance at about 4:15 a.m. Fire and paramedic crews were dispatched. Deputies from the Eagle County Sheriff’s office were also called for assistance.
At the scene, firefighers rigged a rope and pulley system and lowered a State Patrol officer to the scene to assess the situation. The same system was used to lower first responders to the scene and load the man on a stretcher. He was then taken to Vail Health hospital.
Eagle River Fire Protection District Community Risk Manager and Public Information Officer Tracy LeClair said firefighters and other first responders often practice their rescue skills. Any vehicle that goes off the road on Battle Mountain requires a rope-and-pulley rescue or recovery.
“We need to rely on muscle memory,” in those rescues, LeClair said.
That training was put to the test early Sunday morning. Rescuers were working in the dark, in a snowstorm, in frigid temperatures.
LeClair added it’s uncertain exactly when the accident occurred. Given the time of day, a car can go off the road on Battle Mountain without being noticed. LeClair noted that the State Patrol is often on that stretch of road looking for vehicle tracks that head off the steep mountainside.
Both LeClair and Lewis said the man in the accident was fortunate to live through the accident.
“This could have been much, much worse,” LeClair said.
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