Saturday evening a woman was killed in a rollover crash on Rabbit Ears Pass when the Jeep in which she was a passenger rolled off Highway 40. Her boyfriend, the driver, was traveling west near mile marker 149 when he lost control of the Jeep and rolled down an embankment on the eastbound side of the roadway. Troopers said the driver, who survived the crash, was wearing a seatbelt and walked about 100 feet back to the highway on his own. The victim was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle as it rolled down the embankment.
Bonnie Collins, the State Patrol’s lead investigator on the crash, said Monday that her analysis of the wreckage revealed that a pin was missing from the steering shaft of the Jeep. She said the discovery led her to believe that the accident occurred because the driver lost the ability to steer the vehicle, and he will not be cited for the accident.
But the most striking fact is that he walked away from the accident, and the beltless passenger was killed. According to the State Patrol, the number of people killed in Colorado traffic accidents while not wearing seat belts is up. The State Patrol says 187 people not wearing seat belts died in Colorado crashes last year, up from 164 in 2010.
The State Patrol released the numbers during its “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement period that ran through the first week of June. In Colorado, adults can be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt if their vehicles have been stopped for another violation. Seat belt fines are $65 per violation.
The Colorado State Patrol says that according to statistics from last year, those more likely to die in a crash without a seat belt were young men, pickup truck occupants, nighttime drivers and passengers, Hispanics and those traveling in rural areas.