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11/28/2013 Stalled storm gives Valley first taste of winter

Stranded motorists, icy roads, two-plus feet of snow, but no major mishaps

The Custer County Sheriff’s Department was kept busy over the snow-swept weekend, the first heavy storm of the season. Several cars slid off the slick roads over the last several days.

The slow-moving storm moved into Custer County late Wednesday, and stalled over the region for several days.

Westcliffe received nearly a foot of snow on Friday, several inches on Saturday and Sunday, and heavy additional accumulation on the ground Monday. Clear skies prevailed on Tuesday this week, though as much as three feet of snow was reported along the base of the Sangres. Two feet or more was reported throughout most of the county. State highway crews were able to keep Highways 96, 69 and 165 open, and county and town crews stayed active with county roads and town streets.

"Our deputies were kept busy pulling people out of snow drifts," said Sheriff Fred Jobe. "Even though we had terrible weather, there were very few accidents."

Though people mostly stayed safe through the whiteout, a number of drivers became stuck and were forced to spend the night in their vehicles.

Deputy Ron Lemoine was one. On the evening of Monday, Nov. 25, Lemoine had gone out on the SilverWest Airport road to bring the driver of a stuck wrecker truck into town. Lemoine also became trapped and was forced to spend the night in his squad car.

In another incident, on Sunday, Nov. 24, a father and his three children were traveling down County Road 305 in Centennial Ranch when their 2000 Volkswagen was snowed in.

"We couldn’t get down the road to reach them," Sheriff Jobe reported. "So we called Search and Rescue."

While volunteer members of the Search and Rescue team jumped on their four-wheelers and headed out, Undersheriff Tony Supan began to dig his way down the road to reach the trapped family.

"Search and Rescue reached the family first," Sheriff Jobe said. "They brought the father and his kids out to Undersheriff Supan who had come close to their location. Undersheriff Supan took them back to safety."

Sheriff Jobe reported that only one accident occurred during the storm. On Friday, November 22, a 2009 Toyota SUV was southbound on county road 323 on a downgrade.

"The driver lost control in the ice and snow," Sheriff Jobe said. "They went off the left side of the road and came to a rest in a stand of pine trees."

There was heavy damage to the right side of the vehicle. The driver reportedly left the SUV after the accident. The Sheriff’s Department is currently working on closing the report.

"I am very glad that no one was hurt during the bad weather," Sheriff Jobe said.

– J.E. Ward