By Lisa Schwantes and Tonya Hamilton
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announces that the remains of fallen employee Nolan Olson will be brought home to Pagosa Springs on Friday, March 2. Olson lost his life on Feb. 11 after suffering critical injuries from a passing vehicle, which struck him on Feb. 2 while he was filling pot holes on the highway in Pagosa Springs.
Members of the CDOT executive management team and key regional staff will carry Olson’s ashes from Denver to South Fork, via U.S. 285, through the San Luis Valley.
“We are very honored that the family is allowing us the privilege of carrying Nolan home to his final resting place,” said Mike McVaugh, CDOT Region 5 Transportation Director.
It is expected that fellow CDOT employees will pay their respects as the transport vehicle makes its way south across the state. Maintenance patrols will line their vehicles and equipment at various locations and observation points along the route as an opportunity to bid farewell to their fallen co-worker.
A key stopping point along the route will be in Poncha Springs at the Lincoln Area Maintenance Office. The stop will allow Region 5’s south-central employees the chance to honor their fallen CDOT brother.
Once Olson’s remains arrive in South Fork, a formal procession will take place for the final 42 miles of the journey. Olson’s step-daughter, Archuleta County Undersheriff Tonya Hamilton, and other members of Nolan’s family will lead the final leg of the procession from Treasure Falls and into his hometown of Pagosa Springs.
“My family and I have been dumbstruck at the amount of people that want to be involved in bringing Nolan home and honoring him in this way. It’s truly been astonishing,” said Hamilton. “We haven’t been able to find the words to express our gratitude to everyone. As a family, we’re humbled by the outpouring of concern and love.”
Following immediately behind the sheriff’s vehicle will be snowplow No. 4746, the vehicle which was driven by Nolan while serving the public for 14 years on the Pagosa Springs, Patrol 7. Also accompanying the memorial motorcade will be local southwest and south-central Colorado CDOT Region 5 employees, driving their trucks and equipment.
The American flag will be displayed at the summit of Wolf Creek as the procession drives over the pass. Community members may pay their respects as the memorial procession makes its way through Olson’s hometown of Pagosa Springs where Olson’s remains will rest throughout the night on the grounds of Patrol 7, guarded throughout the night by his CDOT family.
The expected departure time from Denver will be in the early morning hours of Friday, March 2. CDOT informs the public that brief traffic delays may occur at highway intersections along the statewide procession route. The journey will take approximately seven hours. CDOT urges the public to use caution when the memorial motorcade passes, especially if members of the public wish to pay their respects outside of their vehicles or places of business.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Community Center the following day, on March 3, at 11 a.m. A procession from the CDOT maintenance yard on 14th Street to the Community Center (traveling east on U.S. 160/San Juan Street/Main Street and onto Hot Springs Boulevard) will begin around 10:15-10:30 a.m. Anyone wishing to pay their respects is welcome to stand in attendance roadside anywhere along this route. Again, please use caution when standing in attendance or traveling through the area. The motoring public can expect short delays at the intersections during this time. A reception will immediately follow the service.