A slow-motion collision between a North Central Regional Transit District bus and a pickup stopped traffic headed down the mountain from Ski Santa Fe for hours late Wednesday afternoon.
According to the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, the transit district's 24-foot Blue Bus carrying four passengers began to slide on an icy and snow-packed Hyde Park Road as it was going around a curve about 3 miles from the ski basin. The bus ended up blocking both lanes of traffic.
Transit district spokesman Jim Nagle said dashboard camera footage from the bus shows several other vehicles were stopped on the road in front of it, and the bus clipped two of them before coming to a stop. Neither motorist sustained damage to their vehicle, Nagle said, and both left without requesting insurance information from the bus driver.
As the bus was stopped, the sheriff's office said in a news release, a green Toyota pickup came around the curve and slid into the bus.
No one was injured, according to the sheriff's office. But traffic traveling in both directions was shut down for "several hours" while officials waited for medical personnel to assess the people involved in the crash and clear the vehicles from the road.
Both the bus and truck were able to drive away from the accident, sheriff's office spokesman Juan Ríos said, but officials still had to wait for a tow truck and take measurements before opening the road.
Ski Santa Fe employee Bob Shoulders said he was one of hundreds of people who spent several hours stopped on the road waiting for authorities to clear the scene.
He started hearing about the traffic jam on a ski patrol radio from colleagues who had left before him.
"We heard it was one of the RTD Blue Buses and I wasn't too surprised," Shoulders said. "We see them driving up and down the mountain every day and they are pretty aggressive."
Nagle said one of the bus passengers told a transit district supervisor the bus was traveling about 5 mph at the time of the collision.
"The hard drive footage on the cameras that was pulled from the bus showed MPH in a range of 3 to 6 MPH and then back to 5 mph at the time the bus began to slide," Nagle wrote in an email.
Shoulders said it was only 14 degrees on the mountain as he waited in the line of traffic for about three hours.
"It was cold and dark," he said. "Luckily, I had half a tank of gas, so I could keep turning my car on to warm it up."
The good news, Shoulders said, was "no body was acting crazy or honking horns. Everyone was on their best behavior. Some people were jumping around to friends' cars. It looked like there were little parties going on. It was done in Santa Fe style."
But he questioned why it took so long to clear the accident.
"The time frame was a result of the accident," Ríos said.
It was snowing at the time, he added, and deputies had to wait for an ambulance and tow truck to arrive. They also called the state Department of Transportation to plow and salt the road before they were able to get traffic flowing.