Elbert County intersection’s frequent wrecks worry residents

Dirt-road crash claimed the life of a high school senior

Chancy J. Gatlin-Anderson
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 7/23/21

Residents who travel in the area south of Elizabeth have voiced concerns about the safety of the intersection of Elbert County Roads 9 and 118. The two dirt roads intersect at a sharp curve. CR 118 …

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Elbert County intersection’s frequent wrecks worry residents

Dirt-road crash claimed the life of a high school senior

Posted

Residents who travel in the area south of Elizabeth have voiced concerns about the safety of the intersection of Elbert County Roads 9 and 118.

The two dirt roads intersect at a sharp curve. CR 118 encounters a steep ledge before curving into CR 9. There are no guardrails to prevent drivers from skidding off the ledge into the property below.

Recently, an Elbert County resident who lives near the intersection voiced a complaint about the abundance of wrecks on the road and the impact on their personal property.

“We have three to five cars a month fly off the road and land in our field,” said the resident, who requested anonymity due to possible repercussions for complaining. “I have pleaded with the Elbert County Road and Bridge Department to do something about it.”

The resident has lived on the property since 2017 and has experienced more than 40 car crashes on or near the property, many in wintertime.

“I asked the county about guardrails and they said no,” the resident said. “They said it was too hard to plow with them.”

Accident reports were pulled from the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office on July 14. Nine pages of reports were compiled from 2018 to 2020.

The accident reports confirm the hazardous nature of the intersection, all of which cite attempted left turns followed by skidding off the road and off the ledge.

On May 10 of this year, a crash at the intersection claimed the life of Ezekiel “Zeke” Paul Cabrera, an 18-year-old high school senior who planned to join the Marine Corps.

Zeke’s mother, Aimee Cabrera, pleads with the county to make the necessary changes to the road.

“I think the county needs to stop putting Band-Aid fixes on that road when there are so many accidents each year,” said Cabrera. “It’s time to pave it. Dumping a ton of sand over the washboard does not fix the road. With washboard underneath and a thick layer of sand on top, it gets incredibly dangerous during rainy season.”

Not only are people losing their lives at this intersection, but animals are also being harmed.

On April 12, 2017, the anonymous resident’s horse was hit by a car and suffered a broken leg. Over the course of one evening, one car skidded off the road and into the pasture, tearing down their property’s fence. The horses wandered out of the property into the driveway, one being hit by another skidding car.

“I couldn’t get a veterinarian out here fast enough and she was suffering,” said the anonymous local. “We had to put her down. It was the nice deputy that finally agreed to do it.”

People affected by the crash-prone intersection have given specific recommendations to increase safety:

1. Put up a guardrail.

2. Increase signage (specifically those to indicate a sharp curve).

3. Pave the roads leading to the intersection.

Elbert County Manager Sam Albrecht had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.

Anyone wanting to voice concerns about local roads or to submit road maintenance requests can visit https://www.elbertcounty-co.gov/237/Road-Bridge.

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