Airman assigned to Air Force Academy killed in I-25 crash; identified as Staff Sgt. Kaitlyn Denardo

Staff Sgt. Kaitlyn Denardo
Staff Sgt. Kaitlyn Denardo(Air Force Photo)
Published: Sep. 19, 2021 at 9:21 AM MDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2021 at 5:28 PM MDT
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U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (KKTV) - An active-duty airman was killed after crashing her Jeep on I-25 near the Air Force Academy Sunday morning.

According to a spokesperson with Colorado State Patrol, the 23-year-old driver was traveling northbound on I-25 around 4:45 a.m. when she veered off the road. She tried to right the vehicle but hit a guardrail and lost control. The Jeep flipped over and the driver died at the scene. No one else was in the vehicle.

The crash happened at the Interquest exit (153). Northbound I-25 was partially closed for about three hours while first responders and investigators worked at the scene. Due to its proximity to the Air Force Academy, academy firefighters, police and ambulance services were among the agencies that responded to the crash.

On Monday, the Academy identified the driver as 23-year-old Staff Sgt. Kaitlyn Denardo. Staff Sgt. Denardo was from Slidell, Louisiana.

“The Academy is heartbroken and in shock with the tragic loss of one of our own,” said Col. Christopher Leonard, 10th Air Base Wing commander. “Our thoughts are with Sergeant Denardo’s family and team members during this incredibly difficult time.”

Denardo served in the 10th Surgical Operations Squadron, 10th Medical Group as the non-commissioned officer in charge of surgical supply since July 16. She was recently promoted to staff sergeant on July 1.

Her decorations include the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Gold Border, U.S. Air Force Professional Military Education Ribbon, and the Basic Military Training Honor Graduate Ribbon.

“Kaitlyn Denardo was like gravity to people and she had a fire to her that people responded to. She was a bright Airman with a great reputation and a huge personality that everyone loved,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Wells, Airman Leadership School commandant, Travis AFB, California. “We were proud to name her the Distinguished Graduate of her Airman Leadership School Class in November 2020. That is a peer award, and its selection says a lot about an Airman.”

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