An investigation has turned up empty as to why a longtime Durango man crossed the center line of U.S. Highway 550 in August, causing a head-on crash that killed him and a mother of two.
On Aug. 23, Donald Jeter, 78, was headed north on Highway 550, driving a 2006 GMC Sierra pickup.
A few miles north of Durango, south of Trimble Lane (County Road 252), Jeter crossed the center line and hit a 2012 Audi Q5, driven by Corey Wetherell, 38, of Durango. Both drivers were killed.
Capt. Adrian Driscoll with the Colorado State Patrol said an exhaustive investigation was unable to find any reasons for why Jeter crossed the center line.
“We looked into everything as best we can,” Driscoll said. “And that, unfortunately, is our conclusion.”
Authorities found no medical conditions that would have caused him to lose control of his vehicle. A toxicology report determined no drugs or alcohol were in his system. And phone records indicate Jeter was not on a call or texting at the time of the crash.
“We’re at a loss as to why,” Driscoll said. “The only person that would know would be Don Jeter, unfortunately.”
Wetherell and her family moved from Houston to Durango in 2018, her friend Allison Roan Wall, who co-owns the Balcony Bar & Grill, said previously. Her kids were entering first and fourth grade, she said.
“She was a wonderful mother and wife,” she said.
According to an obituary in The Durango Herald, Wetherell was born in Austin, Texas.
“Corey had a great sense of humor with a bubbly laugh, a caring nature for those around her, and a passion and a purpose for her life,” her obituary says. “Corey will be greatly missed by all those who knew and loved her.”
A GoFundMe campaign to help the Wetherell family raised more than $48,000 as of Monday.
Jeter moved to Durango in 1978 and opened Valley Welding and Sheet Metal, now CAL Steel and Sheet Metal, according to his obituary.
He was a Vietnam War veteran, served on the Durango Fire Protection District board and was a member of the San Juan Basin Shrine Club.
“Don was a tireless worker at home, the community and the shop,” his obituary said.
In 2019, there were three fatalities on Highway 550 from the Colorado-New Mexico state line to Silverton, Driscoll said, including Jeter and Wetherell.
The other was Greg Ryder, 67, a well-known singer-songwriter in Durango who also died in a head-on crash around 6:40 a.m. April 23 near milepost 32, in the Hermosa area.
In that incident, Nathaniel Andrew, 24, of Durango was driving north on Highway 550 when he ran off the right side of the road, hit a guardrail, came back across the road and hit an oncoming vehicle driven by Ryder.
State Patrol investigators determined Andrew, who was then a deputy with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, fell asleep at the wheel of his Ford pickup on his way home from a 12-hour night shift at the La Plata County Jail. He was charged with careless driving causing death.
Earlier this month, Judge Dondi Osborne said a plea agreement, which would have sentenced Andrew to 160 days of electronic home monitoring, was too lenient. Instead, Osborne said she would settle for nothing less than 10 days in jail.
Andrew is scheduled for a sentencing hearing Jan. 14.