PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. - A state highway spokeswoman implied Tuesday that improper or inadequate signage is not a factor in two recent crashes by drivers traveling the wrong way on Interstate 25 near Pueblo.
Karen Rowe, a regional director for the Colorado Department of Transportation, discussed the situation on Tuesday, after a Monday night crash just south of Pueblo that involved three vehicles and sent six people to hospitals.
Three people died in a similar crash Thursday night just north of Pueblo.
"I have talked with out maintenance personnel," she said. "They say all the (Do Not Enter, Wrong Way) signs were replaced relatively recently in the last few years, and the reflectivity's good and all the standard signing is up. We're going to look at (whether) additional signs (could) be added at either off-ramps or on-ramps in order to help direct the traveling public."
Rowe said ramps in rural areas, such as where the crashes happened, are not lighted and are darker than ramps in metropolitan areas.
However, she said, CDOT won't decide whether changes are warranted until after investigations by the Colorado State Patrol are completed.
"We want to make sure any money we spend is spent wisely," she said.
Nellie Palmeri, of Fountain, shed some light on Monday's crash, She said she and her 5-year-old daughter, Kennedy, had just entered the northbound lanes of I-25 from the Pueblo West ramp when she saw the wrong-way vehicle ahead of her.
"I don't think this was someone going the wrong way on a ramp," she said. "This was someone who was already going northbound on the highway and turned around to come back the opposite way. I saw a light, thinking (the driver saw) a deer and that's why (he was) swerving. Seconds later, a car going the opposite way on the highway came nearly inches away from hitting my car. I called 911 instantly. As I'm calling 911, I look in my rearview mirror, seeing tons of headlights swerving. I knew it wasn't good."
Although investigators said alcohol was a factor in Monday's crash -- without specifying which driver had been drinking -- they also said determining why drivers in both crashes went the wrong way on I-25 is difficult.
"There are so many reasons," said Sgt. Rob Madden, of the Colorado State Patrol. "It could be because someone got lost or confused, or had a health problem, or had an emotional issue or had a motive to intentionally drive the wrong way. Sometimes, we never know."
According to the State Patrol, traffic accidents so far have killed 584 people in Colorado this year.