Gary Higgins, 23, of Craig, was killed at 8:30 p.m. Monday, when a car he was riding in rolled over and he was ejected from the vehicle, according to a Colorado State Patrol news release.
The driver of the vehicle, Jaya Oliver, 23, and two other passengers, Madelynn Meyring, 18, and Aaron Gallegos, 23, all of Craig, were transported to The Memorial Hospital for treatment.
TMH officials reported that Meyring and Oliver were in fair condition, and one of the women was released Tuesday afternoon.
Gallegos was listed in critical condition and was transferred to another facility.
According to the release, a 2002 GMC Envoy driven by Oliver was traveling eastbound on Moffat County Road 22 when it exited a left-hand curve, began to rotate counter-clockwise and drifted to the opposite side of the road, just west of the intersection with Moffat County Road 103.
After rotating clockwise, the GMC rolled three times before coming to rest on its wheels facing north.
None of the occupants were wearing seatbelts, and all were ejected from the vehicle during the crash, officials said.
State Patrol Cpl. Brian Bagley, who is investigating the accident, said there is no indication drug or alcohol impairment of the driver was a factor in the crash.
Alcohol was found in the systems of some of the passengers, Bagley said.
The crash occurred on what Bagley described as a “moderate curve” on a gravel road.
He said the vehicle was going too fast for the conditions on the road at the time.
“Speed contributed to the vehicle losing control originally,” he said.
While he has not calculated the exact speed the car was traveling or the degree of the curve, Bagley said he is sure the ejection from the vehicle directly led to the severity of the injuries.
“That’s the real bottom line here,” Bagley said. “The vehicle did have some damage to it but the passenger compartment was relatively intact.
“I can say, 100 percent, that the injuries would have been way milder than what they were if they had remained inside the vehicle. Vehicles are made relatively safe these days if you stay in them.”
In his nearly two decades as a state trooper, Bagley said he has investigated close to 100 fatal accidents. He said only a few victims were killed while wearing a seatbelts.
“A high, high percentage of the fatal accidents I’ve seen, the victims were not wearing (seatbelts),” he said. “It’s an issue across the board at all ages.
“Sometimes we get heat from the community because we write tickets when people don’t wear their seatbelts. Sometimes we get people grumbling about that. But this is why we do it.”