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Falling boulder kills man as he drives

Posted by on Aug. 17, 2009 at 8:26 AM
  • 3 Replies

Man dies after rock hits SUV

Writer: Troy Hooper
Byline: Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

A man driving through Snowmass Canyon late Friday afternoon was killed after a boulder came crashing through his windshield and struck him in the head.

The rock, which authorities said was about the size of a cooler, landed in the back seat of his black Chevrolet Tahoe where it delivered a glancing blow to one of the man's three sons. The boy, 11, suffered minor to moderate injuries. The other two boys, ages 8 and 6, and their mother were uninjured, according to Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Rich Armstrong.

The man was identified as Thomas Murphy of Kansas City, Mo. He was 45.

Authorities at the scene said the 911 call initially came in as a report of reckless driving. Another motorist apparently saw the SUV weaving downvalley as the man's wife steered the vehicle from the passenger seat.

Heather Rousseau/Aspen Daily News
Authorities point to the spot where a rock smashed through the windshield of a Chevrolet Tahoe. The vehicle's driver was killed. One of his boys suffered minor to moderate injuries. Two other boys and their mother were apparently uninjured in the crash. They were all transported to Valley View Hospital.

"He'd been hit. His wife was trying to maintain some control of the vehicle. She put it in neutral and was hoping to coast but it took 1.2 miles for the Tahoe to come to a stop because they were going downhill," Sgt. Armstrong said.

The vehicle was travelling approximately 50-55 mph when the rock hit it at about 4:50 p.m., snarling the downvalley rush hour.

The family was transported to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs where Murphy was declared deceased.

The Murphys were vacationing here from Missouri, authorities said, and were beginning the drive back to Kansas City when the accident occurred. They had mountain bikes attached to the back of their vehicle.

The tragedy calls to mind the death of an 11-month-old boy who was hit in the head with a rock about the size of a brick on Highway 133 in February 2007; a 7-year-old Carbondale boy who died in January 2002 when boulders fell from the side of South Canyon and crushed the passenger side of his step-father's truck; as well as Aspen resident Art Daily who lost his
wife and two children when a boulder fell from the walls of Glenwood Canyon in 1995 and crashed into their car. The rock missed Daily.


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by on Aug. 17, 2009 at 8:26 AM
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by on Aug. 17, 2009 at 8:29 AM

WOW OMG that poor family.

by Member on Aug. 18, 2009 at 3:18 PM

I always am stressed when I see the "Caution: Falling Rocks" signs, especially around Arizona and Nevada.  I never knew they actually fell.  The poor family.  What a freak accident that could not have been prevented.

by Bronze Member on Aug. 18, 2009 at 3:21 PM

That poor family...

I am from the west coast (British Columbia) and we have lots of rockslides and avalanches. It's not uncommon for the highway to be closed off for several days while they clear it. Cars have been completely buried... It's scary!

I am a Canadian,breastfeeding (it IS best, there is nothing even close to that nutrition and bond), co sleeping, extended rear facing (if you don't rear face to the maximum of your seat, you're NOT doing all you can to protect your child), baby wearing, Non spanking (I want my kids to respect me, not fear me) ANTI- CIO, homemade baby food making, cloth diapering, organic (chemical free household!) recycling mama to TWO! My husband is my equal and best friend, not my master and I believe basic health care should be a human RIGHT, not a privilege.


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