I-70 open again after fatal crash in Glenwood Canyon

A woman was killed, three others were hospitalized and Interstate 70 was closed roughly nine hours today in Glenwood Canyon after a fiery head-on crash involving a semi-tractor trailer and a passenger car.

The interstate opened again in both directions around 1:30 p.m., according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Troopers around 4:36 a.m. were called about the crash at milepost 127, just east of Hanging Lake Tunnel, involving a westbound semi hauling beer, and a 2012 Mazda sedan which was eastbound, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

Early investigation shows the Mazda “abruptly” moved into the westbound lane and slammed head-on with the semi, just after the semi exited Hanging Lake Tunnel at milepost 127.1, troopers said.

The cause of the crash — the second fatal accident in just over a month along the same stretch of under-construction roadway — remains under investigation.

A woman driving the Mazda was pronounced dead at the scene, Trooper Nate Reid said. Both the Mazda and semi were engulfed in flames after colliding, sending the Mazda counter-clockwise at least once before stopping in the westbound lane, facing east. The tractor trailer continued west and hit a cement barrier off the south side of the road.

One of the semi’s saddle tanks ruptured during the crash and another tank was ripped off, spilling approximately 100 gallons of diesel on the roadway. Hazardous material teams with the Colorado State Patrol were called to the scene.

While the driver of the tractor trailer escaped his burning truck without injury, witnesses ran to the burning Mazda to help the surviving three occupants. The three passengers, an adult male, a male child and a teenage girl, were transported to Vail Valley Medical Center. The male child was later flown to Denver Health hospital, Reid said.

The teenage girl passenger was also expected to be airlifted to a Denver hospital this afternoon, Reid said.

I-70 had closed over approximately nine hours over an 18-mile stretch, between mile markers 116 and 134.

The area where the crash happened is a contruction zone where all I-70 eastbound traffic is shifted into the usual westbound lanes, creating one lane of traffic in each direction. The reduced speed limit is 40 mph.

This morning’s fatal crash was second in 38 days for the same area. Brianda Zavala, 18, of Glenwood Springs, was killed April 14 after her Audi collided head-on with a semi at miler marker 129; the vehicle was eastbound and had drifted into the westbound lane. The Garfield County Coroner’s office said Zavala had a blood-alcohol concentration of .241 percent.

Read the full story in Thursday’s Daily Sentinel.


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