Crash into Barker results in driver’s death

barker checking the inside  Barbara Lawlor, Boulder County.   A Lakewood man died while apparently trying to reach help after he crashed into Barker Reservoir on Wednesday night.

At 8:10 a.m. on Thursday, December 17, Nederland Fire Protection District was dispatched to a small cove just west of Barker Dam where a red vehicle was upside down, half submerged in the water which had frozen around it, about six feet offshore. The site was at the bottom of a steep bank straight down from Boulder Canyon Road.

First responders chief Rick Dirr and Iain Irwin-Powell put on their diving gear and walked out onto the ice to see if anyone was in the vehicle. They used extrication equipment to cut out the doors and gave the signal that the car was clear, nobody was in it.

barker cutting open door

The back window was broken out. They didn’t know if it was a result of the accident or if it had been broken out by the driver.

By this time, Sugarloaf Fire Protection District and Boulder Emergency Squad divers had arrived at the scene and began setting up for a water/ice search. Colorado Department of Transportation and Nederland Police Department officers set up traffic control, limiting it to one lane during the search efforts.

Nederland firefighters winched one side of the car to a fire engine and pulled the vehicle over, opening up the hole in the ice underneath. Dirr and Irwin-Powell pulled the chunks of ice off the water and searched the area under the car.

barker good search

Irwin-Powell said the water was about chest deep at the site but then dropped off into deeper water. Because of its location, the water under the ice was not in the path of reservoir currents. No footprints or signs of anyone leaving the area were found, but the winds had been gusting to 50 mph and temperatures were in the teens.

barker coroner

Around 10:30, the dive teams began preparing for a recovery effort, searching the water under the ice, when the command received notice that a body had been found on the opposite shore, about 100 yards up the bank towards Alpine Drive. The man, later identified as David Dubie, 43, of Lakewood, had apparently gotten out of the vehicle and walked across the reservoir towards the lights on the southeast shore. He made it partway up the hill and collapsed.

 barker looking at body barker nfpd firefighters

A Barker Dam surveillance camera showed that the crash occurred around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night. His body was found by an Alpine Drive resident the next morning.

An autopsy will determine whether the man died of hypothermia or from injuries in the accident.

A state patrol trooper said the car had been heading to Nederland and that there was no evidence of another car being involved or that any other passengers were in the vehicle. It is not known at this time what may have caused the crash, speed was not a factor, but alcohol and drugs are possible contributing factors, according to the state patrol.

The incident is still an open investigation.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.