Trucker lives to tell about wreck

Colorado State Trooper Matt Jakopic investigates a truck crash on Colorado Highway 65 just south of Mesa Monday around noon. Emergency workers on the scene said the driver of the Commercial Refuse Services said he lost his brakes.

A Grand Junction man told investigators that the brakes went out as he was behind the wheel of a loaded-down commercial-trash truck, plummeting down a stretch of highway near Mesa at an estimated 80 mph before crashing into a drainage ditch.

The 49-year-old driver, who was not identified by authorities pending the outcome of an investigation, appeared to have suffered only cuts and scrapes in Monday morning’s accident, Colorado State Patrol Cpl. Denny O’ Leary said.

“He’s extremely lucky to be alive,” O’Leary said.

Authorities were called around 11 a.m. on a report that the truck, owned by Commercial Refuse Service of Grand Junction, had flipped on its side after slamming into a culvert, leaking fuel and scattering thousands of pounds of trash along Colorado Highway 65 about 1 1/2 miles of Mesa.

O’Leary said the driver told troopers “it felt like the engine quit” as he was descending the highway, northbound, approaching the town of Mesa. The driver said the vehicle had lost its braking system as it approached a curve.

“He estimated he was going 80 mph,” O’ Leary said.

The driver indicated he was hauling a full load of trash, which included a 20-yard Dumpster with a capacity of roughly 54,000 pounds of trash, the trooper said.

“He said he couldn’t turn hard enough at that curve,” O’Leary said.

The trooper said he didn’t know the driver’s destination or where he was coming from. Police scanner reports indicated he had left from Powderhorn Ski Resort.

The impact snapped the frame of the vehicle, shearing the cab off the chassis. An estimated 250 gallons of fuel leaked from the vehicle’s tank.

O’Leary said the wreckage will be towed to a location where investigators will attempt to find evidence of mechanical failure.

Alcohol and drugs are not suspected factors.


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