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Collision requires flights for life

Drugs and alcohol not a factor

By Mark Reaman

While it does not appear that alcohol or drugs played a role in the serious two-vehicle crash last Friday afternoon on Highway 135, the Colorado State Patrol has yet to determine why one vehicle drifted across the lane into oncoming traffic.

That action resulted in a serious head-on collision that closed the highway for more than two hours Friday, January 26. The drivers of both cars were flown to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

According to Colorado State Patrol public information officer Gary Cutler, the accident occurred at 2:32 p.m. on Friday afternoon about two miles south of Crested Butte South. Cutler said the accident was caused by 26-year-old Nahaylem Ellis of Gunnison. The driver of the second vehicle was 28-year-old Peter Stork.

Trooper Josh Lewis said on Monday that Ellis was driving southbound in a Toyota Rav-4 when he drifted into the northbound lane near the county shop. Stork was heading north in a Jeep Grand Cherokee when he was struck by the Toyota.

Cutler said both parties were trapped in the vehicles and the highway was closed while they were extricated. Both had serious bodily injuries as a result of the incident. Flight for Life helicopters were called to the scene. While Stork was undergoing surgery, both Ellis and Stork were listed in stable condition as of Tuesday.

The highway was closed until 4:49 p.m.

Cutler reported that a drug recognition expert was called in as part of the investigation and determined that neither drugs nor alcohol were involved in the cause. Lewis said, however, that investigators still have not determined the exact cause of the crash. Ellis was issued a citation for careless driving causing injury.

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