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Drugs, alcohol confirmed in head-on crash that killed two women near Bayfield

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Marijuana, meth contributed to the collision

Drugs and alcohol played a role in a head-on crash that killed two Durango women in April on U.S. Highway 160 near Bayfield, according to an autopsy and toxicology report.

Elfrieda Kolossa, 56, of Durango, was driving east about 10:20 p.m. April 27 on Highway 160 near Gem Village when her 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee traveled across the centerline and struck a Toyota Rav4 carrying Erin Brown, 47, of Durango, killing her.

Kolossa was under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time, said La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith.

According to toxicology results, Kolossa was intoxicated with alcohol, meth and marijuana. Kolossa’s blood-alcohol level was 0.18, more than three times the legal limit of 0.05, and the meth concentrations in her blood were “quite, quite high,” said Dr. Michael Arnall, a forensic pathologist who serves Southwest Colorado.

“Each one of those compromises your judgment, and any one of them could have compromised your judgment enough,” Arnall said.

Colorado State Patrol troopers who responded to the crash suspected Kolossa was under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, and they found an open container of alcohol and marijuana in her car.

Alcohol would have impaired Kolossa’s physical ability to drive a car while meth and marijuana can cause hallucinations and paranoia, Arnall said. Any concentration of meth can also cause a fatal heart arrhythmia, he said.

“We'll never know the precise way in which these drugs caused the problem, but driving with these drugs onboard severely increases your probability of an untoward outcome,” Arnall said.

Cpl. Jonathan Silver, with the Colorado State Patrol, said in April that Kolossa had left The Billy Goat Saloon in Gem Village before driving east on Highway 160. The Billy Goat Saloon was less than a mile from the crash site.

Brown and her 16-year-old daughter, who had recently moved to Durango from Pagosa Springs, were returning from a youth group in Pagosa when the crash occurred. Kolossa was not wearing a seat belt, while Brown and her daughter were, according to the crash report.

Kolossa and Brown were both taken to Mercy Hospital where they were pronounced dead.

The 16-year-old girl, who was driving at the time to practice for her driver’s license, saw Kolossa, in her lane and was able to swerve and slow down before impact, Silver said following the crash.

She was taken to Mercy Hospital with “moderate” injuries, according to the crash report.

As of Monday, a GoFundMe site to support the girl, who is now under the guardianship of her aunt, has raised more than $40,500 of its $50,000 goal.

The GoFundMe page can be found by searching Rally for Ava on the GoFundMe website.

ahannon@durangoherald.com

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