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Update: Driver in fatal crash on U.S. 160 is identified

Just before Wednesday crash, reports were made about a drunken driver on the road
Crew directs traffic after fatal crash on U.S. Highway 160/491 on Aug. 30, 2023. Colette Czarnecki/The Journal

Roger Steyaert of West Virginia died Wednesday morning after his southbound Ford Ranger collided head-on with a northbound semitrailer on U.S. Highway 160, just south of Cortez, according to Colorado State Patrol Capt. John Trentini.

The collision occurred at 5:22 a.m. at Mile Point 35.9 between Cortez city limits and County Road G. Northbound and southbound lands of the highway were closed from Road G to Seventh Street, forcing travelers to detour around the scene on South Oak Street.

Bumper-to-bumper traffic was reported on South Oak Street about 7:15 a.m., and a Nixle alert asked drivers to avoid the area. The highway was reopened about 11 a.m., according to a news release.

School bus garages were notified of the crash, and bus drivers avoided the area, according to Cortez’s Public Information Officer Kelly Codner. Northbound buses used the detour area.

Just before the collision, the Ford Ranger was called in as a reckless driver on U.S. 491 a few minutes before the collision. Montezuma County Sheriff Steven Nowlin said that several drivers reported that they had avoided head-on collisions with the driver.

Steyaert was described as a 76 year old white male. George Deavers, the Montezuma County Coroner, said he had blunt force trauma to the head, with severe head fractures and trauma to the brain. It’s unknown whether drugs and alcohol were involved because authorities are waiting for the toxicology report. Speeding has been suspected.

The driver of the semitrailer escaped injury.

Two racoons also died at the scene, according to Nowlin.

Bailey Duran contributed to this article.