Three taken to hospital after car accident south of CB last week

Gunnison County commissioner a passenger

By Mark Reaman 

A two-vehicle accident that took place Wednesday evening, May 24, on Highway 135 sent three people to the Gunnison Valley Hospital, but no one was critically injured. According to Crested Butte Fire Protection District EMS and fire chief Rob Weisbaum, both cars suffered heavy damage but, he said, “We are grateful that the three patients involved were not seriously injured. All three patients were transported to GVH for further medical evaluation.”

Among those involved in the accident that occurred about 6 p.m. just south of Crested Butte at mile marker 24 was Gunnison County commissioner Laura Puckett Daniels. She was a passenger in the car that was struck. 

Trooper Gary Cutler of the Colorado State Patrol said that according to the initial report, it appears a Ford F-150 pickup heading south on 135 was speeding and came upon a Subaru Outback also heading south. The pickup struck the Outback from behind and both vehicles careened off the road striking a fence and taking out about 200 feet of the fence.

The driver of the pickup was 35-year-old Edwin Mendez of Gunnison. Cutler said he sustained the most serious injuries. The Outback was being driven by 47-year-old Heather Tomcak of Crested Butte. Puckett Daniels was a passenger in the Outback. Cutler said both reported sustaining “moderate” injuries.

Cutler said the state patrol does not believe drugs or alcohol were involved in the incident, but excessive speed is suspected to be a factor in the accident. All three people involved were wearing seatbelts.

According to Cutler, it’s been determined that Mendez is at fault and will be issued a citation but, as of Tuesday, May 30, charges were still pending. 

Weisbaum said the accident did not require any of the occupants to be extricated from their vehicles. “This incident is a great reminder to wear your seatbelts and always maintain situational awareness while operating your vehicles,” he concluded.

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