By Rick Sallinger
DENVER (CBS4) – A wrong-way crash in the HOV lanes on Interstate 25 has happened before.
A father and a son were killed on Saturday night when the suspect driver headed south in the HOV lanes which were only for northbound traffic at the time.
The victims have been identified as 47-year-old Miguel Ramirez Gutierrez and his 17-year-old Michael Ramirez Muro.
Officials at Denver Public Schools released this statement about Michael:
Michael was in the 11th grade at Denver Center for International Studies. Here is a statement about Michael from DCIS Principal Theresa McCorquodale:
The DCIS community lost a beloved student last night. Michael was a source of positive energy in our school. He always had a smile on his face and a contagious positive attitude that brought joy to our students and faculty on a daily basis. Michael’s kindness, friendliness and supportive nature shone through in everything he did. He will be deeply missed by staff and students alike. We extend our most heartfelt sympathy to Michael’s family.
The principal is providing counseling support for students and educators who are in need of these services. She has not planned anything more at this time.
A Colorado State Patrol spokesperson says it now appears the driver going the wrong way appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.
The suspect, 24-year-old Kimberly Ramirez Roldan, is believed to have entered the highway at 70th avenue according to investigators. That is the same spot CBS4 has shown in the past where getting around the barrier is not that hard even though there are signs, cones and even a gate meant to stop drivers.
“Obviously there is a very clear turn as you come into that area with signage, etc. Whenever we had accidents or crashes like that we do go back and we look at the engineering, the signage to determine if there is something that we should be changing,” said Amy Ford, Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman.
In 2014, Leslie Roberts mistakenly got into the HOV lanes going south from the 70th avenue entrance. She was seriously injured when her car collided with a northbound vehicle.
At the time she told CBS4, “I would not have turned into a barricade. And I was not intoxicated. There was nothing to indicate that I should not turn down that road.”
A year earlier, a driver headed in the wrong direction crashed head on into a car going the other way. A woman known as Jenny Kush was killed. She was a leading activist in the marijuana community.
The driver was arrested on charges of driving under intoxication and vehicular homicide.
In 2010, an RTD bus was stopped when it was determined the driver was going the wrong way in the HOV lanes.
CDOT says no crash is acceptable, and it will go back and look at what happened. It says it does a traffic analysis before shutting down any access ramp.
It is not sure if the engineering played a factor in this case. The state agency is offering its condolences to the family of the victims.
A GoFundMe page has been established to help the Ramirez family.