Two vehicle rollovers occurred within just a few days of each other last week along U.S. 285 west of Taos, underscoring the dangers of traveling at high speeds on lesser known roadways in the Taos County area.
The first incident took place Friday afternoon (July 14) near mile marker 370 as a driver swerved to avoid collision with oncoming traffic. The combination of speed and sudden lateral movement caused the vehicle to tip over, jolting the driver and one passenger inside, according to reports from Taos Central Dispatch.
Bystanders extracted the two victims from the wreckage as fire and medical units were dispatched to the scene. According to reports, the male driver was "awake and alert," but in "considerable pain." The other victim, a woman, did not suffer any serious injuries.
Law enforcement assisted in a temporary closure of the roadway as a life-flight helicopter with TriState Careflight touched down on the pavement to transport the male victim for additional treatment.
Just two days later, on Sunday (July 16) dispatchers reported a similar incident along the same stretch of highway just two miles north, near mile marker 372.
"We have a vehicle hauling a camper that rolled over," a dispatcher from Taos Central Dispatch reported to emergency services around 12:55 p.m.
The vehicle and attached trailer flipped when the driver attempted to pass another vehicle at high speed, according to Director of Taos County Emergency Services Joaquin Gonzalez. "The trailer started to swerve and caused the vehicles to rollover," he said.
Dispatchers advised at 1 p.m. that the occupants of the vehicle - a male in his 30s and another male in his 80s - were walking around, the younger male complaining of some "left shoulder pain." The elderly man was uninjured, according to dispatch reports.
Tres Piedras Fire Department and medical personnel were dispatched to the area and a life-flight helicopter was placed on standby.
Gonzalez said that the straight stretches of roadway along 285 can be deceiving, at times giving way to sudden dips in the roadway or chevron curves that can cause a vehicle to lose control. "Many people tend to go faster on that roadway," he said, "Most of the calls we deal with are for people who aren't from the area, but speed, fatigue and hazards on the road, like wildlife, are dangers for everyone."