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Bus Passenger Describes Fatal Collision With SUV In Tunnel

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1 person was killed in a crash on Highway 6 in Clear Creek Canyon early Sunday morning (credit: Golden Fire Dept.)

1 person was killed in a crash on Highway 6 in Clear Creek Canyon early Sunday morning (credit: Golden Fire Dept.)

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman has been killed after the vehicle she was driving collided with a bus shuttling casino workers in Clear Creek Canyon on Sunday.

Maria Rodriguez, 58, from Boulder, died in the crash that occurred in one of the tunnels on Highway 6.

The Golden Fire Department said 40 people were on the bus heading west into the tunnel. Eight of the passengers suffered moderate injuries.

The bus and Rodriguez’s Ford SUV collided head-on. A Chevy sedan trailing behind the SUV then slammed into the Ford. The Colorado State Patrol says Rodriguez was heading east into the tunnel, crossed the double yellow lines and drifted directly into the bus. At 6 a.m. the bus was quiet, filled with sleepy passengers, including Shannon Robinson.

“(The bus driver) said, ‘Oh my God,’ and then all of a sudden the bus jumped up in the air,” Robinson said. “At the point of impact we were airborne for like maybe three seconds … it felt like we were going over a tin can actually, because we were going at least 50 miles an hour. We could feel the impact of the car under the bus as well.”

Inside the tight tunnel the bus bounced off the walls.

“We hit the wall to our right, the bus went down and then we slammed into the wall on the left, and all the windows broke out in the front of the bus,” Robinson said. “People were yelling and crying in the bus and as soon as I got up I just went pulled the driver. I grabbed Billy by his hand and helped him up.”

Robinson is a chef at a Black Hawk casino. He’s taken the same trip to work many times with a driver he’s come to know.

“Billy is, he’s driving for a lot of years, he’s only been in one accident and I hate to see him go through this today. It’s just a bad day for all of us,” Robinson said.

The State Patrol said there were two people in that Chevy sedan. One passenger, Jessica Ventura, 24, from Aurora, was seriously injured and taken to St. Anthony Hospital.

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