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Three-car crash closes U.S. 491 near Cortez; four hospitalized

Head-on collision near County Road N injures 5

A three-vehicle collision Friday afternoon resulted in multiple injuries and shut down U.S. Highway 491 near County Road N for about two hours.

Cortez and Lewis-Arriola firefighters, Colorado State Patrol troopers and multiple ambulances were called to the scene about 3:10 p.m. after a report of an accident involving three vehicles and several injured people. U.S. 491 was closed in both directions near the intersection by 3:20 p.m., and northbound traffic was diverted onto Lebanon Road.

Cortez Fire Protection District administrative assistant Wendy Mimiaga said all available personnel, including assistant fire chief Shawn Bittle, responded to the crash, which she said involved a head-on collision between two vehicles. Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin said two deputies responded to help with traffic control until state troopers could arrive.

Lewis-Arriola Fire Chief George Deavers said four people were transported to Southwest Memorial Hospital with broken bones and lacerations. One female patient was reportedly pinned inside her vehicle and had to be extricated. Although some of the injuries were serious, Deavers said, none was “critical.”

Deavers said the collision occurred between an SUV and two pickups, one of which was hauling a trailer. Lewis said a 77-year-old woman from Dolores was driving the SUV, a 41-year-old man and woman from Cortez were in one of the pickups, and the pickup with the trailer was occupied by a 67-year-old man from Utah and a 40-year-old man from Cortez. All the people involved suffered moderate to serious injuries, except the 40-year-old man, whose injuries were minor. All three cars were totaled. Deavers and Lewis said it appeared the SUV had rear-ended one of the pickups while it was trying to turn, pushing it into oncoming traffic, where it collided head-on with the truck hauling the trailer. But Deavers said responders were not certain what caused the accident.

“It does not appear that drugs, alcohol or speed are being considered as factors,” Lewis said.

The road was reopened about 5:10 p.m., according to a tweet from the Colorado Department of Transportation.

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