A 28-year-old Englewood man was cited Sunday with drunken driving after causing a harrowing accident on Black Bear Pass, a dangerous and difficult mountain road that connects Silverton and Telluride.
According to the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, the driver, identified as Jeremy Knight, was cited with driving under the influence of alcohol.
Susan Lilly, a spokeswoman for the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, said witnesses told deputies that on Sunday afternoon Knight was recklessly driving a red Nissan Xterra over Black Bear Pass moments before the crash.
Black Bear Pass is considered an expert-only, four-wheel drive, high-clearance road. Because the stretch of mountain pass is so narrow, with many steep drop-offs, the road is one way from Silverton to Telluride.
Knight was reportedly driving recklessly, Lilly said, when he went over a hill and hit a Jeep Wrangler that was parked off the side of the road. Four members of a family were eating lunch inside the Jeep, Lilly said.
Knight rear-ended the Jeep, lost his front bumper, and then continued driving off road another 40 yards or so until the vehicle hit boulders, causing the airbags to go off, witnesses told the Sheriff’s Office.
“It was just a very scary scene,” Lilly said.
The crash did not cause the Jeep Wrangler go off the tight road. Three of the four occupants in the Jeep were taken by helicopter to Telluride Regional Medical Center.
Knight was also taken by helicopter to the hospital. Lilly said that none of the injuries was life-threatening, and everyone was treated and released Sunday.
Lilly said the Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash to see if Knight’s vehicle had experienced a mechanical failure. Witnesses said they saw Knight honking the horn before the crash.
“Whether the alcohol or mechanical failure caused it, or both, we don’t know,” Lilly said.
[email protected] This article has been updated to note the family of four was inside the Jeep eating lunch.