DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- A woman died on Monday morning after a crash involving an elk turned into a multi-vehicle accident.
Colorado State Patrol initially received a call that a vehicle had struck an elk on I-25 southbound near Happy Canyon road, just north of Castle Rock. By the time deputies arrived on the scene, there were five vehicles involved in the crash.
According to CSP, around 12:53 a.m. a 21-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman from Minnesota were driving southbound on I-25 in a Chevy Trailblazer when they hit an elk. After hitting the elk, they pulled over onto the left shoulder of the highway and came to a stop.
A 21-year-old man from Colorado Springs stopped to offer assistance. The three were standing outside of their vehicles on the side of the road, with the woman near the rear of the Trailblazer, the driver between the Trailblazer and the concrete barrier, and the man from Colorado Springs standing near the front of the Trailblazer.
That's when a Toyota 4Runner, driven by a 70-year-old man with a 69-year-old woman passenger, traveling southbound on I-25 hit the elk lying in the road.
The Toyota swerved to the left shoulder and collided with the woman from the Trailblazer. She and the two men were thrown over the concrete barrier into the northbound lanes.
After hitting the Trailblazer, the Toyota swerved back into the road, hitting a Dodge Nitro. The Dodge Nitro then rotated into a different lane, hitting a Kia Forte.
According to CSP, the 70-year-old man in the Toyota sustained serious injuries, the 69-year-old passenger sustained life-threatening injuries.
CSP says the woman from the Trailblazer died at the scene.
The occupants of the other vehicles:
- Dodge Nitro SUV, all from Santa Fe, New Mexico, had four passengers:
- 30-year-old male driver sustained serious injuries
- 30-year-old female passenger, unknown injuries
- 10-year-old female passenger sustained serious injuries
- 10-year-old male passenger, not injured but transported
- Kia Forte had one passenger:
- 31-year-old female driver from Colorado Springs sustained minor injuries
In total, nine people were taken to the hospital.
CSP shut down both directions of I-25 while crews worked to investigate and clear the scene for several hours Monday morning.
According to CDOT more than 3,000 crashes involving wildlife are reported on average every year. Most wildlife crashes happen between dawn and dusk when animals are most active.
"If you are on a busy highway and there's traffic coming up behind you and oncoming traffic, the best place to be is in the safety of your vehicle," said Lisa Shwantes, the Southwest regional communications manager for CDOT.
If you do hit an animal CDOT says to find a safe place to pull over. After finding a safe spot, Schwantes says you can call 911 or Colorado State Patrol.
The investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing. Right now, CSP says alcohol and speed are not believed to be contributing factors in the crash.
Names are not being released until next of kin notifications have been made.
Southbound Interstate 25 is closed after a multi-vehicle crash early Monday.
The Colorado Department of Transportation said the crash happened on southbound I-25 between Colorado Highway Happy Canyon Road, just north of Castle Rock.
Officials with the South Metro Fire Department said one person died and nine others were taken to the hospital.
Colorado State Patrol is handling the investigation. There is no estimated time for the road to reopen.