Car plunges 120 feet off bridge near Vail, difficult rope rescue saves victims

Car plunges off I-70 bridge near Vail. Photo provided by the Town of Vail.

Car plunges off I-70 bridge near Vail. Photo provided by the Town of Vail.

VAIL, Colo. — A car hit a tanker truck, went out of control and plunged off of a bridge on westbound I-70 near Vail Tuesday afternoon.

The vehicle fell about 120 feet and landed upright in several feet of snow. The two occupants survived.

Emergency responded performed a difficult and dangerous rope rescue to bring the victims to safety. The operation took about two-and-a-half hours to complete. Because of the nature of the incident and the risk involved, the highway was closed.

“It was determined a “high angle” rescue was the best approach, which is a high-risk low frequency rescue strategy used to lower or haul victims and rescuers up or down a vertical rope system,” a press release from the Town of Vail says. “Further assessment determined a “low angle” rope system would be utilized from the sides of the bridge to move the two victims from the car and up to a waiting ambulance.”

The driver, 61-year-old Phuc Read of Aurora, and her passenger, Quang Luong, 42, of Nebraska had serious injuries. They were conscious and communicating with rescuers and hospital personnel.

They were taken to Vail Valley Medical Center for treatment.

Vail Fire Chief Mark Miller says the deep snow where the car landed acted as a cushion and prevented even more serious injury or death.