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Update: At least four crashes reported on Cortez-area highways

Three crashes occur on U.S. 160 and one on U.S. 491

Three accidents within four miles of each other occurred on U.S. Highway 160 east of the Four Corners Monument Friday afternoon.

Emergency responders were first dispatched to a crash at milepost 8 called in by a Colorado Department of Transportation snowplow operator, said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Gary Smith.

The snowplow operator was westbound when he stopped to investigate a rolled-over Ford Ranger in the eastbound ditch. He found that the vehicle – registered to a Bluff, Utah, owner – had been abandoned. Then an eastbound GMC from Arizona clipped the snowplow and went off the road, crashing into the abandoned Ford.

“Everybody was OK. Luckily the snowplow driver was clear when the vehicle hit,” Smith said. The Arizona driver who hit the snowplow was issued a citation.

A short time later, about 1:45 p.m. a three-car crash on U.S. 160 occurred at mile marker 12.

At least one person was transported by ambulance to Southwest Memorial Hospital, according to Norman Wall, of the Ute Mountain Ute Fire Department, who was directing traffic around the accident.

A SUV and passenger vehicle ended up off the south side of the highway in packed snow. Another passenger vehicle remained on the roadway and sustained severe rear-end damage.

Traffic was delayed as the highway was restricted to one lane.

The cause of the crash, which is being investigated by the Colorado State Patrol, was not available. It occurred during a snowstorm on snowpacked and icy roads.

Southwest Health System ambulance and the Bureau of Indian Affairs also responded to the scene.

Then at about 6 p.m., a single vehicle rollover occurred on U.S. 491 near Lewis. The driver lost control of pickup truck in snowy, icy conditions, went off the west shoulder, rolled once and took out a fence. The woman was not injured and was able to drive back onto the shoulder of the road. She was issued a ticket for improper mountain driving, a state patrol officer said.

“We have had a lot of accidents today,” he said.

A winter storm warning was scheduled to end at midnight Friday. Sunny and cold weather was forecast for Saturday, with a high temperature in the mid-20s and an overnight low around 10 degrees. The National Weather Service predicted a 40 percent chance of snow Sunday night and Monday morning in Montezuma County, with a high near 28 and a low of 15.

Sunny skies were forecast for Tuesday through Friday, with high temperatures rising to above freezing by Thursday.

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