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Collision kills Pagosa man on Highway 160
7/24/2009 By: Carole McWilliams
A 49-year-old Pagosa Springs man died and a Bayfield teenager was injured in a two-car collision three miles east of Bayfield on July 16.
Kenneth L. Laskey was pronounced dead at the scene. Waylon H. Sutton, 16, of Bayfield was taken to Mercy Medical Center. The Colorado State Patrol listed his injuries as moderate.
Trooper Jonathan Silver told the Times that Sutton “had quite a few bones in his face broken. Most injuries were on his face. He had a lot of reconstructive surgery.” Silver said seat belt use probably could have reduced those injuries.
According to Silver’s crash report, Sutton was driving east on Highway 160 in a 1991 Jeep Cherokee. Laskey was westbound in a 1994 Honda Accord. He was using his seatbelt.
CSP reports that Sutton’s Jeep crossed into the westbound lane. Laskey’s car skidded approximately 66 feet as he attempted to avoid a collision by swerving onto the westbound shoulder. But the Jeep also crossed onto the shoulder and hit Laskey head-on.
Silver said that along with the difference in vehicle size, the nose of the Honda goes down in hard braking. So instead of hitting frame to frame, the Jeep over-rode the front of the Honda.
Laskey’s car stopped right there, facing south, while the Jeep continued another 76 feet, rolling one and a half times, and stopped facing north straddling the highway centerline.
CSP does not consider excessive speed or drug/ alcohol use to be a factor in the crash. Silver said both drivers were going at or near the speed limit.
Silver confirmed that Sutton had received his drivers license fairly recently. He had a dog with him, a Boston terrier named Ellie. The crash cause is still under investigation, Silver said this week, with a possibility that Sutton was distracted by the dog.
Sutton’s father was driving ahead of him in another vehicle, Silver said. When he realized his son wasn’t behind him, he turned around and came back. He was one of the first people at the crash scene. He found the dog wandering around the crash scene.
Sutton was charged with careless driving resulting in death, which has a potential penalty of up to a year in jail, Silver said.
Highway 160 was closed for about three hours after the 7:50 a.m. crash while emergency responders dealt with the crash.
The highway closure backed traffic up into Bayfield, said Deputy Chris Choate of the Bayfield Marshal’s Office. He praised Bayfield Public Works employees for helping deputies deal with the ensuing traffic jam and helping them reroute traffic.
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