By Alan Gionet

CONIFER, Colo. (CBS4) – Bill Brumer has noticed the change in the way people drive. He lives in Bailey and for years has been trying to get the state to improve the road.

“Very difficult for me, a guy that’s been working six and a half years on trying to get improvements done for more safety on the highway to see things like what happened last Thursday happen. It’s just absolutely terrible,” he said.

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His heartbreak has mixed the community anger over a driver who was reported by people before the crash to be driving aggressively, and at high speed, heading south on Highway 285 before crossing a double yellow line and hitting a family from Englewood.

The crash killed 55-year-old Diana Snell and her 2-year-old granddaughter Jordan in addition to the driver people called in to report, 36 year old Benjamin Bobier of Colorado Springs.

“For some reason it seems that aggressive driving has gone off the rails the last year or so.  People are driving faster and more aggressive than they’ve ever been since I’ve lived up here,” said Brumer.

He’s not the only one who has noticed. “They’re anxious to be out on the roads visiting family, friends travelling again, so the traffic volumes have picked up considerably in the last seven months,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Patrol Division commander Bard Ingermann.

“More people on the road, faster speeds, maybe people that are a little less patient with each other,” Ingermann added.

Overall speeds that increased when roads were wide open earlier in the pandemic seem to have stayed high. Law enforcement has been writing tickets for vehicles going faster and faster in recent years.

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When people were told to head to the mountains for fresh air last year says Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw, it seems like twice as many came to his county. Add to that, the closures of I-70 due to mudslides and that’s a lot of pressure on a road built for far less traffic.

McGraw’s deputies stopped Bobier earlier in August after a chase that started in Teller County. Bobier hit another vehicle in Lake George. Speeds reached 120 says McGraw before his deputies got Bobier to stop by placing stop sticks on County Road 9, near Fairplay.

A few days later he was out of jail after bonding out. Without a conviction yet, there was no move to remove his license.

But Bobier is only one driver of many with an apparent streak of disregard.

“I think there’s a patience change out there, people are less patient, they’re a little bit more in a hurry. I also think there’s more distracted people out there,” said Ingermann. Enforcement on 285 is tough and like everything else, limited due to budgets. McGraw would like to hire more deputies to patrol the road and Ingermann would like more out there as well. But the highway has its difficulties when it comes to enforcement. In some of the more dangerous areas, there’s simply no room.

“You get above the higher portion of the road above Kings Valley, there’s narrowing of the road it narrows to two lanes. There’s limited shoulder in places, there is much more difficulty for law enforcement to enforce in some of those areas because of just general public safety,” he explained.

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With Labor Day weekend ahead, he expected pressure and speeds up on roads on Friday afternoon and hoped for people to take it easy and not engage with angry drivers. While people still shocked and upset by last week’s crash who live on the 285 corridor worry what might happen next when drivers pass through. “They want to get there or get home, they don’t worry about what’s in between,” said Brumer.

Alan Gionet