Colorado Department of Transportation workers will carry the remains of fallen employee Nolan Olson from Denver to his hometown of Pagosa Springs on March 2.
Olson, 64, was filling potholes Feb. 2 on U.S. Highway 160 near mile marker 140 in Pagosa Springs when he was hit by a passing car, suffering severe injuries to his legs and irreversible brain damage. He died Feb. 11 at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood.
CDOT communicated closely with Olson’s family after the accident and wanted to honor his life, said CDOT spokeswoman Lisa Schwantes.
“We all know that Southwest Colorado is a bit detached from the Denver metro area,” she said. “But when the arrangements were made to have him cremated, it kind of evolved that we would help in bringing him back home.”
Schwantes said a caravan of three or four vehicles will carry Olson’s ashes from Denver along U.S. Highway 285 starting at 8 a.m. March 2.
The 276-mile journey will include multiple observation points on U.S. highways 285 and 160 for CDOT maintenance crews to pay their respects.
“All of our patrols on that route, weather permitting, will line up their vehicles when his remains are transported by,” Schwantes said.
A formal procession will take place on the final 42 miles of the journey over Wolf Creek Pass into Pagosa Springs.
According to a news release, Olson’s stepdaughter, Tonya Hamilton, along with other family members, will wait for the motorcade on the west side of the pass and lead the procession into Pagosa Springs.
The procession will include snowplow No. 4746, which Olson drove during his 14 years as a CDOT employee, and local CDOT Region 5 workers with their trucks and equipment.
Schwantes said Olson is the first CDOT worker to be killed since 2015.
“I’m a little emotional talking about it,” she said. “Our last fatality was also in Region 5 on Monarch Pass.”
Olson’s name, along with the names of 59 other fallen CDOT employees, will be engraved on a monument later this year at CDOT’s headquarters in Denver.
“Every April is National Work Zone Safety Month,” Schwantes said. “That is when CDOT remembers the workers that lost their lives in the line of duty.”
She said Olson’s death is a reminder for drivers to slow down and be cautious of road workers.
“This really amplifies the dangerous work that our employees do for the state of Colorado,” she said.
“This highlights the importance of being aware when you are on the road, and slowing down when you are in a work zone.”