21 people rescued after trying to avoid I-70 closure via backroad

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GARFIELD, Colo. — The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office is warning people to not follow GPS mapping when trying to avoid the I-70 closure through Glenwood Canyon after a Greyhound bus became stranded.

Friday night, the sheriff’s office was notified that a Greyhound bus was stuck approximately 22.5 miles up Coffee Pot Springs Road. 21 people were on board including an elderly woman with heart conditions.

Picture of stuck Greyhound bus; photo courtesy of Garfield County Sheriff’s Office

Coffee Pot Springs road is a dirt and gravel road used to access the White River National Forest wilderness area. The road is generally travelled by four-wheel drive and all-terrain vehicles. It is not an alternative route around Glenwood Canyon.

The Garfield County County Sheriff’s Office, Garfield County Search and Rescue members, and two transport vans set out to rescue the passengers and driver from the mountain.

According to the sheriff’s office, the bus was trying to navigate back down the road when it managed to tear a hole through the bottom of its engine’s oil pan, creating an oil spill along the high mountain road.

ECOS was called in for a hazardous materials spill clean up to avoid further spread of the oil contaminant.

Once emergency personnel arrived, the Emergency Operations vehicle was loaded with luggage from the bus while passengers and their driver were loaded into other vehicles.

Luggage loaded onto the Emergency Operations vehicle; photo courtesy of Garfield County Sheriff’s Office

Law enforcement said a threatening rainstorm could have interrupted the rescue mission but the storm passed further north.

The caravan reached I-70 shortly after midnight.

In a press release, the sheriff’s office said, “Catastrophe was avoided this time. Travelers are advised not to follow GPS mapping in an attempt to circumvent the I-70 closure through Glenwood Canyon. Backcountry roads are unpredictable and can be treacherous or deadly for the unprepared traveler.”

According to authorities, the recommended route around Glenwood Canyon when traveling west is to exit I-70 at Exit 205 (Silverthorne) and travel north on Colorado Highway 9 toward Kremmling.

Travelers will continue west on US Highway 40 and south on CO 13 to complete the alternate route and returning to I-70 at Rifle (Exit 90). When traveling east, reverse the path.

Although the detour can add between 1 ½ hours to 2 hours to the trip, depending on traffic, drivers will be using well-traveled and paved roads with multiple towns and rest areas along the way.

For up-to-date information regarding Colorado roadways, visit cotrip.org.

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