Minturn woman killed in car crash |

Minturn woman killed in car crash

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyChristine Lopez, right, of Minturn, died Monday in a car accident on Interstate 70 near the Eisenhower Tunnel. Her mother, Patricia Lopez, second from left, was also in the accident and is hospitalized in Denver. Also pictured are Patricia's daughter and Christine's sister, Barbie, left, and Patricia's brother, Dwayne Valdez.

MINTURN, Colorado – Her friends called her “Chica,” and she hoped to have her own massage therapy business in Minturn by the time she was 30.

Lifetime local Christine Lopez, the daughter of Eloy and Patricia Lopez, was killed in a car accident Monday on Interstate 70. She was 23 years old and was almost finished with her massage therapy education, said Minturn resident Sandra Smaller, her aunt.

She attended Battle Mountain High School and graduated from Red Canyon High School.

Patricia, 47, and Christine’s husband, Daniel Sandoval, 34, were both injured in the accident and remain hospitalized in Denver. All three of the accident victims live together in Minturn.

Eloy Lopez passed away in 2005 of pneumonia.

Sandoval was driving the Ford Mustang coupe when it struck a tractor-trailer from behind in the right westbound lane of Interstate 70 on Monday afternoon. Christine was riding in the front passenger seat, and Patricia was riding in the back seat.

Trooper Nate Reid of the Colorado State Patrol said the tractor-trailer was in the right lane with its flashers activated when the Mustang hit it from behind. The Mustang’s center-right side went underneath the rear of the tractor-trailer’s trailer, Reid said. Both cars were traveling westbound.

“We’re unsure of what the cause was or why the Mustang was in the right lane,” Reid said.

Patricia’s co-workers at the Vail Post Office have set up a fund to help the family deal with medical costs.

Brenda Carstensen, who has worked with Patricia at the Vail Post Office for 15 years, said Patricia is the hardest worker she’s ever seen and that she gets along with everyone.

“Everybody likes her – she is always smiling,” Carstensen said. “She’s such an upbeat, family-oriented woman. She’s always happy and friendly.”

The two friends were hired on the same date, July 5, 1995, and always celebrate their anniversary together at the post office. All of the Vail Post Office employees are worried about Patricia and want to make everything as easy on her as they can.

“That’s why I had this fund opened up,” Carstensen said.

Carstensen’s daughter, Marissa Hartt, is the same age as Christine was and is just devastated, Carstensen said.

Christine was the first friend that Hartt made when she moved to the valley. It was Christine’s outgoing personality that helped Hartt overcome her shyness, Carstensen said.

Patricia’s brother, Dwayne Valdez, also of Minturn, said his sister is doing OK. She’s still in critical condition in the intensive care unit at a Denver hospital. He said her injuries include broken ribs, a punctured liver and punctured kidneys.

The entire family, including Christine’s sister, Barbie, and Patricia’s parents, who live in New Mexico, have been by Patricia’s side at the hospital.

“We’re just waiting to see if the doctors need to operate,” Valdez said. “They don’t know yet.”

Sandoval is in the same hospital and is doing OK. Valdez said he doesn’t think Sandoval is in intensive care, but he’s not sure.

Carstensen plans to organize a benefit for the family sometime soon, but for now everyone is just hoping both Patricia and Sandoval will make a full recovery.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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