A Grand Junction couple was killed Saturday when a 21-year-old driver from Cedaredge lost control of his vehicle on the icy parking lot at the County Line ski area on Grand Mesa.
Glen and Linda Eyre, 65 and 63 years of age, died at the scene.
The accident occurred at about 11:30 a.m. Jan. 5.
The Colorado State Patrol reports that Bradley McKee, 50, of Fruita was driving a 2003 green Subaru Legacy southbound on Highway 65. He pulled to the right shoulder to allow other southbound vehicles to pass, then began to cross the highway to the parking area on the east side of the highway.
Joshua Ooms, 21, of Cedaredge was northbound in a 1993 Ford Explorer. He swerved to avoid a collision and lost traction. The Explorer struck the Eyres and a Buick Enclave parked in the lot.
McKee had two passengers, as did Ooms. None of the individuals riding in the vehicles suffered injuries.
Cars were parked on both sides of the highway, which has wide shoulders in that area to provide parking for cross-country skiers who want to access the groomed trails at County Line. According to the CSP, the Eyres were not more than 50 feet from the busy highway.
Moving the parking area off the highway is a priority for the U.S. Forest Service, said Lee Ann Loupe, USFS staff officer.
"We have been working on improving parking areas and providing increased capacity on the mesa for years," Loupe said. Most recently, the USFS worked with a number of partners and funding sources to complete the Mesa Top parking area, which provides snowmobilers with more space for loading and unloading. That parking area is located well off the highway and is equipped with a restroom.
At County Line, an environmental analysis has been completed and design work is under way for a similar project. Conceptually, Loupe said, the parking area will be enlarged and moved closer to the trailhead on the east side of the highway. Changing/restroom facilities will be upgraded.
"We hope to be able to start ground work this summer with completion in 2014," Loupe said. The schedule is dependent upon a number of partners, including the Colorado Department of Transportation, Delta and Mesa counties, Grand Mesa Nordic Council and the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway Association. Capital investment funding to complete the project is subject to federal appropriations. The project will cost approximately $325,000 to complete.
Improvements to the Skyway area are also anticipated, providing the USFS can raise the money for capital construction. When partnerships are formed with other entities, grant money can often be obtained for that type of project, Loupe added.
"It was a terrible accident, but the reality is that a driver pulled in front of another person," she said. It's the type of accident that can occur anywhere, and it highlights the importance of being aware of other drivers and the surrounding road conditions.blog comments powered by Disqus