Crashes close I-70, Highway 50; 
woman dies at scene; three hurt

Two fiery truck crashes and their related road closures had western Colorado travelers scrambling to take detours for much of Wednesday.

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

Troopers were called just after 4:30 a.m. about the crash at milepost 127 involving a westbound semi hauling beer and a 2012 Mazda sedan traveling east, according to the Colorado State Patrol. The interstate opened again in both directions around 1:30 p.m.

A preliminary investigation showed that the Mazda “abruptly” moved into the westbound lane and slammed head-on with the semi. The exact cause of the crash — the second fatal accident in a little more than 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 spinning 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 fuel onto 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 second truck crash happened along U.S. Highway 50, at milepost 124, between Gunnison and Montrose.

The road was closed in both directions Wednesday morning after a semi-tanker carrying approximately 7,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline rolled on its side and caught fire, burning nearby grasslands. The road reopened to limited traffic in the afternoon.

Trooper Reid said the tanker, which was headed east, failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway and rolled on its driver’s side. The male driver and a passenger suffered minor injuries.


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