Two elk killed in Highway 82 accident

Staff report

ASPEN — A Thursday morning accident in the eastbound lane of Highway 82 in the Shale Bluffs area led to nearly three hours of problems for motorists traveling upvalley.

The accident occurred at about 6:50 a.m. when one or more vehicles hit two elk near mile marker 35, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. Another vehicle then rear-ended a vehicle that hit the elk, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The elk died shortly after being struck, authorities said.

Both eastbound lanes were closed and traffic was halted to allow emergency vehicles and personnel to get to the scene. A passenger in one of the vehicles suffered minor injuries, authorities said.

After the elk were removed and the damaged vehicles were moved into the left eastbound lane, traffic was allowed to proceed slowly along the right-side road shoulder.

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The Colorado State Patrol investigated the accident. The Sheriff’s Office and a local fire department and ambulance district initially responded to the incident and assisted state police.

The scene was cleared just after 9:30 a.m., authorities said. Westbound, or downvalley, traffic was unaffected.

“Unfortunately, the accident did affect the commute of workers who were trying to get to Aspen,” sheriff’s Deputy Alex Burchetta said. “We work to get the highway open as soon as we can. This time, given the location where the accident occurred, we have to weigh opening the road with rescuer safety.”

The Shale Bluffs area lies just west of the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport.

No other information was available Thursday.

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