Two collisions Memorial Day weekend near the New Mexico state line south of Cortez injured at least two people and killed another, resulting in the temporary closure of U.S. Highway 491.
About 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 28, Cortez Dispatch received a call reporting a two-car, head-on collision south of the Colorado-New Mexico state line.
According to a computer-aided dispatch report provided by Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin, one Montezuma County sheriff’s deputy responded to the scene to aid with traffic control until Navajo Police from Shiprock, New Mexico could arrive.
Cortez Fire Protection District sent three units, and Medic 1 from Southwest Memorial Hospital also responded to the scene, the report stated. The Ute Mountain Ute tribe sent an engine and a medic as well.
A black Kia Sportage from Utah had two occupants, one of whom was badly injured and extricated from the vehicle. The other vehicle involved in the collision, a white Kia Sorento from New Mexico, had one occupant with injuries to their right arm, the report indicated.
At the request of the Navajo Nation Police Department in Shiprock, an AirCare flight was launched about 2:30 p.m. and landed on the scene at 2:46 p.m. to take a patient to a hospital. Responding units cleared the scene at about 3 p.m.
The Colorado Department of Transportation announced Sunday on Twitter that the highway was closed to southbound and northbound traffic from roughly 2:27 p.m. until 5:39 p.m.
According to Nowlin, Sunday was a busy day for Montezuma County responders.
Two other incidents occurred within the same time frame of the crash, according to calls to Cortez Dispatch. A semi-trailer ran off the roadway and tipped over near Thunderbird Trading Co., about 7 miles south of Cortez on U.S. Highway 160/491.
And an unrelated incident Sunday afternoon left a resident on County Road 25 with facial injuries after a propane fire.
On Monday, another crash in the same area of Sunday’s head-on collision killed a motorcyclist north of Shiprock.
New Mexico State Police investigated the vehicle versus motorcycle crash at 2:20 p.m. Monday on U.S. Highway 491 near mile marker 95.
Eddie Gilmore, 65, of Crownpoint, was riding his 2015 Harley Davidson motorcycle in the southbound lane of U.S. Highway 491, when he was reportedly struck by a 2012 Toyota passenger car driven by a 23-year-old man, who was also driving southbound, according to New Mexico State Police.
Gilmore was transported to an area hospital, where he died from his injuries.
The driver of the Toyota was not injured.
New Mexico State Police are continuing to investigate this crash with the assistance of the crash reconstruction unit, and preliminary results indicate that speed appears to be a contributing factor.
Debra Mayeux of the Tri-City Record in Farmington, New Mexico, contributed to this report.