A pair of accidents last week sent two Pagosa Springs women to hospitals and left one semi tractor trailer driver facing charges.
In a Thursday single-car accident at mile marker 159, across U.S. 160 from Treasure Falls, Kara Schlosser, 17, and Douglas Anderson, 55, were traveling eastbound in a 2004 Nissan Titan pickup when they slid off the left (north) side of the roadway, said Trooper Doug Wiersma of the Colorado State Patrol.
The truck then went off a steep embankment and flipped end-over-end, traveling about 140 feet off the roadway and stopping approximately 100 feet down the embankment, according to Wiersma and Incident Commander John Gilbert of the Pagosa Fire Protection District.
Both occupants were wearing seat belts, Wiersma said.
Gilbert said Anderson was able to get out of the vehicle himself, but emergency personnel had to extricate Schlosser, who was driving.
In order to reach the truck, emergency personnel set up a rope system to lower and raise the rescuers up and down the embankment and bring Schlosser up in a Stokes stretcher (a basket stretcher).
Schlosser was then air lifted from the helicopter’s landing spot on U.S. 160 to Mercy Medical Center in Durango.
Schlosser suffered a broken femur and underwent surgery to place a rod and screws in her leg, said Sara Anderson. Schlosser was released from the hospital Monday.
Doug Anderson sustained injuries in the accident, but is home and resting, though he is very sore, Sara Anderson said.
The Andersons are close family friends of the Schlossers.
“Everybody’s home and we only had one broken bone,” Sara Anderson said, continuing, “They’re both going to be fine.”
Overall, 29 people from six agencies took part in the rescue, including the Pagosa Fire Protection District, Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office, Archuleta County Emergency Operations, Upper San Juan Search and Rescue, the U.S. Forest Service and personnel from the Colorado Division of Transportation, who were doing roadwork on the highway near the accident at the time of the incident.
“It went really good,” Gilbert said. “It was really complex, actually, and we don’t normally work with 30 people, and we came together really well.”
What caused the truck to leave the roadway is still under investigation, Wiersma said.
A Wednesday noontime accident sent a Pagosa Springs woman to the hospital with serious injuries.
Shortly before 11:45 a.m., a semi tractor trailer was traveling westbound on U.S. 160 approaching Piedra Road when the driver of the semi, Richard Brown, 41, of Idaho, realized he was in a turn only lane, said Chief Bill Rockensock of the Pagosa Springs Police Department.
After switching lanes, Brown turned back around and saw a red light at the stoplight, but didn’t have time to stop, Rockensock said.
The semi then collided with the driver’s side of a 2000 Pontiac driven by Cynthia Lovato, 41, of Pagosa Springs, who was making a left turn on to U.S. 160.
Lovato was taken by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center and was then air lifted to Swedish Medical Center in Denver, where she immediately underwent open heart surgery for a torn aorta, said Dino Pacheco, Lovato’s fiance.
Lovato also sustained a severe head laceration, concussion, four broken ribs, one cracked rib and a bruise on her lung, Pacheco said, adding that the doctors and all involved were amazed that there were no more injuries after seeing the remains of the car after the accident.
Lovato was released from the hospital Monday, said Val Archuleta, Lovato’s sister.
“She still has a long, long road,” Archuleta said.
Brown was charged with careless driving.
“The angels were in town last week,” Pacheco said, referring to the fact that the victims in both accidents were not more seriously injured.