“I still can’t explain it. I got a cold feeling on my arm right before the impact happened. I felt like something was wrong. It was a split second later, the mud just took over my car.” –April Lavely-Robinson
A Colorado Springs woman has a gnarly tale to tell after she had to floor it to get through a mudslide in Glenwood Canyon on Sunday. CBS4 reports April Lavely-Robinson was coming back home from Utah on I-70 when the mudslide hit:
“It was completely covered in mud. You could see how the mud had gone completely over the top of my car. I started seeing that I was going towards the guard rail. At this point I was bracing for impact because there were tons of drivers behind me and I was really afraid that I was going to be hit from one of them behind me. I went over to boulders that were coming down the mountain.”
Lavely-Robinson says she saw the mud wash over cars behind her via her rearview mirror. Interstate 70 has been closed each day for various periods of time since Saturday because of mudslides. The Colorado Department of Transportation says the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar can’t handle the amount of rain the region has been getting. Recurring closures are expected as more rain was expected.
HERE’S APRIL’S RETELLING OF THE INCIDENT FROM A FACEBOOK POST:
I had a really scary experience on Sunday, June 27th. It has taken me a couple of days to gather my thoughts and process but I think I need to share my experience. This is a long one so bear with me as I replay what happened.
On Sunday around 4:30pm I was driving eastbound on I-70 through Glenwood Springs on my way back from Utah. The road was pretty full as there was a lot of travelers that day. It began to rain heavily so drivers slowed speed on the winding mountain pass.
Here’s where it gets weird, I got a cold sensation on my left arm, my senses heightened and I had a strong feeling something was wrong. A split second later my car was hit by a mudslide. The windows on my driver side went black from the mud. I was in the far left lane and the force of the mud pushed my car across the right lane and towards the guard rail. I immediately knew I was in a mudslide and I needed to get out of there. I slammed on the gas as hard as I could, went over two boulders and fishtailed throught the mud just before I hit the guard rail.
I saw another mudslide coming down the mountain, I panicked and tried to race out of there as quickly as possible. In my rear view mirror I saw the mud take over the road and other cars with it. All of the sudden I was in the Eisenhower tunnel and realized I was alone. I was the only car that made it passed the mudslide.
I stopped, “Do I go back? Do I go to the next exit and get help? What if there’s another slide? Is everyone ok?”. My hands trembling I tried calling the police and Jimmy, no service. I decided stopping in a tunnel wasn’t the safest option and drove to a rest stop a little further past the tunnel. Here, I tumbled out of my car to assess the damage and collect myself. Side note, I was shocked my car was even drivable. A woman named Tara, (aka angel in disguise) approached me and jumbled words spilled out of my mouth. “Do you need a hug?”, she asked. I fell into a heap of sobs in her arms and she just held me as I wept what felt like a thousand tears. After a few moments of gathering myself Tara asked me to pop my hood, I realized then that my hands were still trembling so badly I could barley perform this simple task. My radiator was full of mud and my car was too. In fact, the entire driver side of my car and tires was covered in thick mud. Ugh.
Tara waved down a farm hand named Ryan who had just finished his day at the Golden Bair Ranch. He didn’t even hesitate and jumped right into help. He grabbed a 2 gallon bucket a began hauling water up a flight of stairs from the nearby Colorado River. I tried to help but he urged me to sit down as I was likely in shock. I’m not sure if I was in shock but my trembling hands certainly seemed useless. Down at the river I thanked him and asked to take a picture of him so I could show my husband the young cowboy who was so quick to help a stranger. From what I hear, most cowboys are and he was no exception to this. As it turns out, Ryan is in school for search and rescue training.
Flash flood alarms echoed through the rest stop where fearful travelers wondered what they were going to do as both directions of I-70 were washed out and closed. People began gathering, they glanced at my swamp covered SUV and me, they wanted to help. A woman offered her phone that luckily had service, I called Jimmy and left the heartbreaking voicemail telling him how much I loved him and that I was safe.
Ryan and Tara cleaned off my car and checked it out to make sure it was drivable. Against the advice of Ryan, who urged me to go get a hotel for the night, I made the 3 hour drive home to my husband and babies. Nothing was going to keep me from holding them that night.
I think most important part of this entire story is that there were no fatalities. The mudslide was actually the second one that weekend and was due to a combination of heavy rain and the burn scar from the Grizzly Canyon fire that occurred last summer. The debris was 70-feet wide in both east and westbound lanes of I-70, and was approximately five to seven feet deep. I want to take the time to acknowledge the folks in the cars behind me that did not make it past the slide and my heart goes out to them.
I feel like my love for writing allows me to process my experiences and I thank you for taking the time to read it (also for not judging typos and poor grammar ). This experience has changed me. If I had been delayed ONE second before I would not have had this same outcome and I shutter at what could’ve happen had I went off the guard rail. As I drove through Breckenridge I stopped at a scenic look out point and marveled at the miraculous view. Everything hit me at once; the scene, what happened, how fortunate I was…all of it. With tears in my eyes, I cried out, “I’M ALIVE!!!”. I put my phone on the hood of my car and snapped a picture of me in my mud soaked overalls not even realizing until after that a light perfectly illuminated my body. #magic
I’m not a religious person, but I know there is a power greater than myself that connects all of us all and guides us along our paths. Somewhere in this mix of The Unknown I believe there are angels and my angels where there that day. Some were on the otherside and some perfectly placed there at that rest stop. I am so grateful for Ryan the helpful cowboy and Tara who lovingly embraced a stranger that just needed human connection and reassurance. ￼