Routt County: Fatal Rockfall

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Oct 19, 2006
NOT in Alaska, damnit!
From Steamboat Pilot

Woman killed when boulder hits car near Mount Harris this morning

By Brent Boyer Originally published March 10, 2010 at 10:45 a.m., updated March 10, 2010 at 12:50 p.m.

Steamboat Springs — A 55-year-old Craig woman was killed early this morning on U.S. Highway 40 between Hayden and Steamboat Springs when a boulder fell onto the roof of the vehicle she was riding in.

The incident at about 7:17 a.m., Colorado State Patrol Cpl. Eric Wynn said. Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg described it a “freak accident.” The woman, Karen Lynn Evanoff, was killed instantly, Ryg said.

Evanoff was a passenger in a 2004 Buick headed east on U.S. 40 toward Steamboat, where she worked. The basketball-sized rock came tumbling down Wolf Mountain, where the cliff band hugs the north side of U.S. 40 just past Mount Harris, Ryg said.

Wynn said the boulder struck the car near where the windshield meets the roofline. The driver of the Buick, who was not identified, was able to pull the car onto Routt County Road 52 and come to a controlled stop, State Patrol Trooper Rick Kaspar said. The driver was not injured.

U.S. 40 remained open in both directions throughout the morning. Colorado Department of Transportation maintenance crews were on scene this morning to investigate the accident and determine whether there was additional danger for motorists, Kaspar said.

Mindy Crane, a CDOT spokeswoman, said the crew members climbed up the slope and didn't see any other rocks that they believed posed any danger to motorists. Nonetheless, a CDOT geologist left his Denver office this morning en route to Mount Harris to provide a second opinion, Crane said. She's not sure how long his inspection will take. He'll examine the area for loose and fractured rocks, Crane said.

"From what we can tell it was just a very unusual occurrence," Crane said. "It was just one rock that came down."

Crane said CDOT records that date back to 1998 don't reveal any other rock incidents at Mount Harris.

"This is a location that's not common for us to see a lot of rockfall events," she said.

U.S. 40 is serving as one of two detours for Interstate 70 motorists caught by the closure of the highway near Glenwood Springs. I-70 was closed at about midnight Sunday when about 20 boulders came tumbling down Glenwood Canyon and left holes as large as 10 feet by 20 feet in the highway. The 17-mile stretch of highway from Glenwood Springs to Dotsero is closed indefinitely. No was injured in that rockslide.

One of CDOT's two recommended detours around the closure is north on Colorado Highway 13 from Rifle to Craig, then east on U.S. 40 from Craig through Steamboat and on to I-70 via either Berthoud Pass or Colorado Highway 9 and Silverthorne
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