Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Whiteout conditions lead to treacherous roadways last week

No injuries from Mountain Express accident

Whiteout conditions on area roadways on Friday, December 7 made for perilous driving conditions throughout Gunnison County.

 

 

Emergency crews responded to Gothic Road in Mt. Crested Butte at 4 p.m. Friday after a Mountain Express bus skidded off the road. During the same afternoon, both Highway 50 and Highway 114 were closed for several hours due to bad weather conditions.
No one was injured in the bus accident, which occurred just south of the Mt. Crested Butte Town Hall on Gothic Road, on the Columbine Road Loop. The driver was unable to make a corner in whiteout conditions.  According to Mountain Express transit director Chris Larsen, snow and icy roadways made driving conditions very difficult on Friday. The Columbine Road Loop goes from the Mt. Crested Butte Transit Center to various condominiums and homes.
While he says the experienced driver was shaken up, Larsen says, “There were no passengers on the bus and the driver was not hurt.” The bus, known as the “Magic Bus,” suffered minor damage. “We’re really lucky all around,” Larsen says.
The accident marked Mountain Express’ first in Larsen’s memory since the winter of 1981-82, when a bus slid off Gothic Road near the Crested Butte cemetery during a snowstorm.
Larsen says various buses were stuck in the deep snow over the weekend, but those were all minor incidents.
Larsen congratulates the bus drivers for doing a good job during the snowstorm, noting that the buses ran continuously over the weekend.
The same day, Mt. Crested Butte police officers shuttled school children home after a school bus was stuck in the Skyland subdivision.
In addition to the bus incidents, Highway 50 over Monarch Pass was closed from 11 a.m. to just after 11 p.m. on Friday, forcing motorists to abandon their trips, seek an alternative route or wait for the road to re-open. According to state patrol officer Mark Perkins, the road was closed due to avalanche control work being conducted and semi-trucks blocking the roadway.
Highway 114 was closed from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday due to two separate incidents involving jack-knifed semi-trucks and blowing snow/poor visibility. No one was injured in either incident.

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