Victim ID’d in fatal wreck near Climax Mine
LAKE COUNTY – Michael R. Huntley, 64 is the man who died Tuesday after he was ejected from the 1988 Ford Bronco he was driving near Climax Mine, according to Lake County Coroner Debbie Bailey.Colorado State Patrol on Thursday had not released the cause of the wreck, which occurred on southbound Highway 91. Drugs, alcohol or excessive speed did not appear to be factors, although Huntley was not wearing a seatbelt, according to a previous CSP statement.The wreck occurred on a roughly 14-mile stretch of the highway that has no mobile phone coverage and limited radio communications.”The white-outs, weather, breakdowns – the car crashes that we’ve had – there’s a strong need for cell phone coverage up there,” Lake County Sheriff Edward Holte said.Town of Breckenridge transit manager Maribeth Lewis-Baker stopped her evening commute to get out, cover the body and direct traffic while waiting for first responders to arrive.The wreck occurred at the end of a curve below Climax Mine.Holte said that when people get into trouble in the area, they often use a phone in the Climax Mine’s guard shack to call for help. Otherwise, driving about another 5 miles toward Leadville is usually enough to get into cell phone range.”Once we’re notified, the response times are generally about 10 minutes or so,” he said.Once on the scene, deputies had difficulty communicating on their radios. Holte said there’s a repeater at the mine, but Tuesday’s wreck occurred about 400 feet below and “it’s pretty steep.””You’ve really got to kind of position yourself in the right place,” he said. “We always have trouble up there.”He said the local government has been “pushing cell phone companies to get coverage there” and even considered purchasing a private tower for the companies to use.Sprint spokesman Dave Mellin said the service provider always looks at opportunities to co-locate with other carriers on a site, and that on Highway 91 there is “a gap there about 7 or so miles long where there isn’t any coverage provided.””As far as I know we do not have any plans to provide coverage along that stretch of highway, at least not in the immediate future,” he said.Spokespeople from AT&T and Verizon Wireless did not offer immediate comment in response to e-mails and phone calls Thursday.Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.