Colorado Driver Killed by Branch Steered Car to Safety

January 3, 2012

A Colorado man who was killed when a 3-foot tree branch flew through his windshield and impaled him in the chest was able to steer the car to safety before losing consciousness.

The wife of 61-year-old James Baker-Jarvis told the Daily Camera that her husband was able to pull the Subaru Outback over to the roadside, saving her from any injury. Baker-Jarvis died later at a hospital.

Saturday’s incident north of Boulder came as high winds swept through the Northern Rockies, toppling two semis, forcing shutdowns along long stretches of highways and causing some 19,000 power failures throughout Colorado.

In Wyoming, two people were injured Saturday when debris blew off the roof of a Cheyenne Sam’s Club store. The Wyoming Tribune Eaglereports that at least five other people were treated at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center for wind-related injuries.

None of the Wyoming injuries was considered life-threatening. The winds reached gusts of 76 mph in Cheyenne, said Tim Trudel, a forecaster for the National Weather Service.

Cheyenne Fire and Rescue Battalion Cmdr. Pat Hobby responded to the scene and said cars in the parking lot were also damaged by the blowing debris.

“That wind can be dangerous,” he said. “When you start getting that high wind, (it) just wears and tears on everything.”

In Fort Collins, Colo., wind toppled a large light pole at Hughes Stadium, home of the Colorado State University football team. The Coloradoan reports that the pole crashed onto the upper press box level and slid down into stadium seating. There were no injuries and no immediate damage estimate.

Baker-Jarvis was a theoretical physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. His wife said that he had hoped to one day bicycle across America.

“He loved to be outside,” Karen Baker-Jarvis said.

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