Local teen killed in vehicle rollover
Evan Dirksen was attending WSCU, excited about next chapter in life
Originally published 2012-09-13
Tragedy struck the Gunnison community over the weekend when Evan Dirksen, a 2012 Gunnison High School graduate enrolled at Western State Colorado University (WSCU), was killed in a one-vehicle accident on Ohio Creek Road. He was 19.
Dirksen grew up in the community, loved the outdoors, played in the band and ran cross country at GHS. His dad, Jim Dirksen, of Gunnison, said his son was excited about starting the next chapter in his life at WSCU.
“There was a spark,” Jim Dirksen said of his son’s first couple weeks attending the university.
A memorial service is planned at WSCU’s Taylor Auditorium at 1 p.m. tomorrow, Sept. 14, with a potluck reception to follow in the University Center Ballroom.
Dirksen was reportedly traveling in a 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee with two male friends, both current GHS students, when the incident occurred about 6:45 p.m. Sunday.
Investigators say that the friends had driven to Crested Butte and were traveling back to Gunnison via Kebler and Ohio passes.
About 11 miles up Ohio Creek Road, the 17-year-old driver of the vehicle veered off the roadway and overcorrected twice, resulting in the Jeep rolling two times before coming to a rest on its wheels in the ditch on the west side of the road, said Colorado State Patrol Sergeant John Ehmsen.
Dirksen, who was riding in the front passenger seat, was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected during the crash, said Ehmsen.
The driver and a 17-year-old back-seat passenger were both wearing seatbelts and received only minor injuries. The two teenagers were treated and released from Gunnison Valley Hospital Sunday.
Gunnison County Coroner Frank Vader said Dirksen sustained multiple traumatic injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The accident was reportedly witnessed by the manager of the Castleton Ranch, who phoned authorities.
Neither alcohol nor drugs are suspected to be factors in the crash, said Ehmsen.
“We had an officer respond to the hospital where the driver was transported,” he explained. “(The officer) was a very experienced trooper and did not recognize any signs of impairment on the driver.”
Additionally, Ehmsen said that officers conducted a search of the vehicle and “nothing of any great interest was found.”
Ehmsen said Monday that it’s still unclear what caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle along the straight section of road where the crash occurred.
“We haven’t developed the full information on that,” he said. “In our follow up, we want to re-interview the driver to determine the situation that led to the crash.”
Investigators also planned to revisit the site of the crash Wednesday, said Ehmsen.
“It’s possible that charges could be forthcoming, depending upon the outcome of the investigation,” he added.
(Will Shoemaker can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org)