RIFLE, Colo. – Three people were killed, including two children, and four others critically injured after the SUV they were in slammed into a bear on Interstate 70 near the town of Rifle in western Colorado early Friday morning.
The family of four adults and three children were inside the 2007 Chevy SUV when it struck the bear while traveling westbound on I-70 and rolled into the median and off the edge of the roadway near the Rifle exit, according to the Colorado State Patrol.
Troopers say all seven occupants in the SUV were ejected during the crash. None are believed to have been wearing seat belts or child restraint systems at the time of the crash.
The three fatal victims were identified as Eugenio Hernandez Altamirano, 63; Kimberly Hernandez, 7; and Brizeyda Hernandez, 15. All three were residents of New Castle, a small Garfield County town 12 miles east of Rifle.
Eugenio and Kimberly were pronounced dead at the scene. Brizeyda was transported to a Rifle hospital and then airlifted to Children's Hospital in Aurora where she ultimately succumbed to her injuries.
Kimberly’s parents, grandmother, and 9-year-old brother were transported to hospitals in Glenwood Springs and Rifle with serious to critical injuries. Their conditions are not known.
The bear was also killed in the crash and taken by the Division of Wildlife.
Currently, drugs/alcohol and speed are not considered factors in the crash. Charges have not been filed. The crash and subsequent investigation closed several lanes of I-70 in the area.