Log In

Reset Password

Authorities identify drivers involved in Tuesday’s fatal crash south of Durango

Accident closed U.S. Highway 550 for several hours near Sunnyside Elementary
Emergency personnel respond to a fatal crash Tuesday 9 miles north of the New Mexico border on U.S. Highway 550, south of Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Officials have identified the drivers involved in a fatal crash that occurred earlier this week south of Durango.

The crash involving two flatbed trucks occurred shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday on U.S. Highway 550 near mile marker 9 and Sunnyside Elementary School.

One driver died at the scene and another was seriously injured.

The driver who died was identified as Richard Engstrom, 77, of Aztec, said La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith.

He suffered blunt force trauma to the head, neck, chest and pelvis, she said.

The Colorado State Patrol said Engstrom was traveling south on Highway 550 when he lost control of his Dodge Ram 3500 and skidded into the northbound lane. He was pulling a trailer, and the truck and trailer jackknifed as it went into oncoming traffic.

Ergstrom, who was not wearing a seat belt, collided with another flatbed truck traveling northbound.

That vehicle was being driven by Dewayne Gruber Jr., 22, of Shiprock, New Mexico.

Gruber suffered serious injuries and was taken to Mercy Hospital. The CSP said on Tuesday he was later flown to St. Mary’s Regional Hospital in Grand Junction. Efforts to reach a hospital spokesperson for an update on Gruber’s condition were not immediately successful Thursday.

Neither drugs nor alcohol are suspected in the crash, said CSP Master Trooper Gary Cutler.

The crash closed Highway 550 and disrupted the flow of traffic for more than five hours.


A previous version of this story misspelled Richard Engstrom’s last name. Incorrect information was given to the Herald.

Reader Comments