by Rick Langenberg:
Teller County experienced its first weather-related fatal accident of the year, just outside Cripple Creek, following a collision between a Divide motorist and a Colorado Department of Transportation snow plow.
The mishap, which occurred on Hwy. 67 South on the morning of Jan. 28, four miles north of Cripple Creek, completely shut down the highway for several hours. It also resulted in the death of 23-year-old Nathaniel Oehlke of Divide. The driver of the snow plow, who is from Florissant, wasn’t injured.
The accident occurred when a 1989 Ford F150 pickup, driven by the victim, was traveling south on the highway around 11:30 a.m. The vehicle, according to Colorado State Patrol officials, lost control on the icy road when taking a curve to the right. The pickup started rotating clockwise, as it went into the northbound lane and struck the blade of a Colorado Department of Transportation snow plow. The pickup, in fact, hit the left corner of the plow’s blade, causing the truck to move counter-clockwise for a short distance. The vehicle eventually came to rest on its wheels.
The snow plow tried to move to the shoulder of the northbound lane to avoid the collision. According to the Colorado State Patrol, the driver of the pickup was not wearing a seat belt. Alcohol and drugs were not suspected in the cause of the accident, according to authorities.
However, officials have speculated that the pickup was traveling too fast for the icy road conditions. Weather also was a factor, with icy conditions reported throughout much of Teller, following a big snow storm the previous night, and with the mercury taking a deep dive that morning.
The accident forced the shutdown of both lanes of Hwy. 67 South for several hours, impacting travel between Divide and Cripple Creek. Motorists were forced to use Four Mile Road or Teller One as detour routes.
The accident marked the first fatality on a local thoroughfare this year.