Mile-High Headlines for Monday, December 22

Panic at DIA
Initial details as to why a Boeing 737-500 jet bound for Houston slid off a runway and crashed on Saturday could come later today. That’s according to The Denver Post, which also reports that it may take one year before national transportation investigators issue final conclusions about the accident that injured 38 of the 115 aboard.

The probe will determine why the crew of Flight 1404 aborted takeoff. Initially, the press was barred from talking to passengers, as indicated by this video of CBS4 reporter Rick Sallinger, who happened to be dropping his family off at Denver International Airport at the time of the accident. Nonetheless, the press provided first-hand accounts of the accident, such as this interview with Denver firefighter Jason Cole, via the Rocky Mountain News.

Some passengers, including Mike Wilson of Denver, posted short updates to with their cell phones. Wilson used Twitter to describe the chaos of evacuating the burning plane, according to The Associated Press.

No deaths resulted from the incident. Serious air accidents have been rare since the airport opened in 1995, according to the Rocky, logging just one fatality.

Colorado River in “Trouble”
The “life vein” of the Southwest–the Colorado River, which powers 3 million homes, waters 15 percent of the nation’s crops, and provides drinking water to one in 12 Americans–is buckling under the strain. That’s according to Pro Publica, which reports that the rush to develop oil and gas, and to mine uranium along the river and its tributaries, “would suck up vast quantities of the river’s water and could pollute what is left.”

Those most concerned live in places like Los Angeles and San Diego, on the receiving end of the water’s journey from the western slopes of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Oil-and-gas drilling along the river’s watershed has hastened during President George W. Bush’s term in office, and a last-minute change in federal rules “has paved the way for water-intensive oil shale mining.”

The future is unclear. Outgoing Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne told the Colorado River Water Users Association that he expects no major changes in how the river is managed under his successor, Ken Salazar, according to the San Jose Mercury-News, highlighting drought, climate change, and increased competition for water as major issues.

A Little Holiday Snow
Here’s something for your global un-warming files. December 4, 14, 15, and 16 were all record-setting in terms of cold, according to CBS4. It was so cold in Colorado Springs over the weekend that at least six water mains and pipes burst, leaving utility workers scrambling, writes The Gazette.

The latest round of Arctic deep chill will thaw a bit today, as highs in Denver and the ‘burbs hit the low 30s and the sun peeks through. But tomorrow will revert back to the freeze, probably bringing some snow and heavy winds. Come Thursday–Christmas Day–the white stuff might be melting as temperatures are expected to hit the low 40s.

Broncos’ Frustrations Continue
“Battered and bumbling” are the words the Rocky Mountain News uses to sum up the Denver Broncos’ 30-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills yesterday. Once seeming destined to reign supreme over the abysmal American Football Conference West, the 8-7 Broncos have failed for weeks to wrap up a play-off spot that was theirs to lose. On Sunday, the Broncos head to San Diego to face the resurgent 7-8 Chargers.

Quarterback Jay Cutler welcomes the scenario: “If you would have told us at the beginning of the year that it was a one-game series with us down in San Diego to go to the play-offs, we probably would have taken it.”

Rams’ Big Day
Colorado State University running back Gartrell Johnson ran a career-high 285 yards in his team’s 40-35 victory over Fresno State at the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque over the weekend. His rushing yards were the second-most ever in a bowl–the highest tally being P.J. Daniels’ 307 yards for Georgia Tech in the 2004 Humanitarian Bowl, according to The Associated Press (via the Los Angeles Times). Johnson also logged 90 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

“All day long, he left defenders reaching for the dreadlocks tumbling out of his helmet,” the AP writes.

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