A head-on collision north of Durango last Wednesday claimed the lives of two local men, Keith Marksberry, 61, of Delta, and John Bennett, 61, of Olathe. A woman traveling in the other vehicle involved in the “offset” head-on also died.
The accident occurred at about 10:30 a.m., on Highway 550 about 14 miles north of Durango.
Kenneth Johnson, 60, of Delta was driving a Toyota Avalon containing three other men from Hellman Chevrolet who were to pick up three vehicles in Durango. Marksberry and Bennett were passengers in the Toyota, as was Kenneth’s son Brian Johnson, 33, of Palisade.
Colorado State Patrol Nate Reid reports the Toyota drifted into the northbound lane of Highway 550, striking a silver Nissan SUV driven by Patrick Shields, 60, of Cotopaxi. His passenger, Ruth Shields, 91, also of Cotopaxi, was killed in the crash.
Patrick Shields, Kenneth Johnson and Brian Johnson were transported to Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango. The three people killed in the crash died at the scene.
Tim Hellman, owner of Hellman Chevrolet, was at a loss for words when contacted by phone last week. He said Marksberry had been employed by the dealership since 1979; John Bennett joined the staff about a month ago. Ken Johnson is the husband of an employee. He had volunteered to help ferry the vehicles and brought along his son. On Friday, Tim Hellman said Brian Johnson was still hospitalized.
The Colorado State Patrol reports Kenneth Johnson has been charged with three counts of careless driving causing death and two counts of careless driving causing injury. Drugs, alcohol and excessive speed have been ruled out as causes. “The driver just drifted over the center line,” a CSP spokesman said.
John Bennett is survived by his wife, mother and extended family members. A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 2 p.m. at Crippin Funeral Home Chapel in Montrose.
Memorial services for Keith Marksberry will be held at 10 a.m., Friday at Taylor Funeral Service Chapel in Delta. A lifetime resident of Delta, Marksberry is survived by his mother, sister and extended family members.