Yesterday, shortly before 3pm, reports of a head-on collision on I-70 began flooding our 911 call center. Thus far, the investigation into the crash has revealed that a passenger car, driven by an adult male, was going westbound in the eastbound lanes of the interstate, near the 27 Road bridge, when it collided with an SUV, driven by an adult female, with a juvenile female passenger. All three involved parties were seriously injured. No arrests have been made at this time, but as the investigation unfolds, charges could be forthcoming.
Those are the facts of this investigation as it stands right now. Our thoughts are certainly with those who were injured as a result of this scary collision. However, what we want to do today is acknowledge the incredible acts of kindness and service displayed by people who witnessed this crash and rushed to the aid of the victims. Below is an email that was sent out by one of the Grand Junction Police Department officers who responded to this crash:
“On 06/20/17 we responded to a head-on collision on I70 near the 27 Road overpass. It was reported one of the vehicles had ignited. When I arrived, a male was trapped in a Honda Accord near the median and a Ford sport utility vehicle in the eastbound lanes was fully engulfed. The fire quickly spread to the adjacent shoulder of the Interstate and began climbing the embankment toward homes on Marsh Lane and Continental Court.
Over a dozen motorists had stopped and extricated an adult female and juvenile (perhaps 5-7 years old) from the SUV and carried the woman to the shoulder of the roadway. The SUV was emitting loud “booming” and “popping” noises and I believe nearly everyone at the scene thought it could very well explode. The bystanders placed the female onto a tarp someone had provided and carried her westbound along the highway, away from the vehicle. Others stood with another tarp elevated over the female to shade her from the sun; temperatures were near 100 degrees. A nurse who had stopped placed the juvenile in her personal vehicle and remained with the child until EMS arrived. Had these individuals not acted so immediately and decisively, both the woman and her child would have surely perished.
I was later repositioned to 27 Road to conduct traffic control. I spoke with two males who had stopped on 27 Road to the north of I70 when they saw the fire on the southern embankment. The males had climbed numerous fences on the south side of I70 in an attempt to slow the fire and warn residents. I also spoke with others who had thrown buckets of water on the fire as well as some who used personal extinguishers in attempts to prevent the fire from threatening homes and property.
The overall response from bystanders was, I thought, magnificent. I regret that I was not able to obtain the names of all of those who provided assistance in this event. I was hoping, either through social media or mass communication, the Grand Junction Police Department could make an attempt to recognize and thank all of those who rendered their help in any way they could with this incident.”
Additionally, we were made aware this morning that the only possession that made it out of the vehicle with the juvenile female was a pink blanket. The blanket was wet and dirty from the crash. It was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital, where the staff there saw to it that is was laundered, so that the little girl could have that small piece of comfort.
We don’t know the names of all of those who stopped to help after this crash. We don’t know if they were local community members, or simply traveling through. What we do know is that, without the aid of these brave and selfless people, the outcome of this tragic incident could have been much different. If this message reaches any of you, please know that you have our gratitude and admiration.