Semitrailers jackknife, closing I-70

An accident that involved two jackknifed semitrailers and a fuel spill closed eastbound Interstate 70 west of Rifle for several hours Monday.

The accident was one of three that occurred within minutes of each other in that area, and one of them caused injuries. Altogether, the Colorado State Patrol investigated 16 accidents, mostly single vehicles, in Garfield County on Monday. Many roads were snowpacked and icy after a storm the night before.

The truck accident closed the highway around 9:20 a.m. A truck driven by Martin Sanchez, 45, of Winter Haven, Fla., began to change lanes but jackknifed on a bridge and hit the railing at milemarker 89, the State Patrol said. A semitrailer driven by John Halsey, 43, of Dayton, Ohio, braked to avoid the accident but jackknifed and hit the first vehicle. Both came to rest along in the eastbound lanes on the bridge.

Afterward, Sanchez’s vehicle leaked about 50 gallons of diesel fuel. A State Patrol Hazardous Materials Unit, the Rifle Fire Department and Custom Environmental cleaned it up, and none reached area waterways.

Eastbound traffic was diverted at the West Rifle exit and one lane of the eastbound highway was reopened shortly after 2 p.m. The second lane opened in the late afternoon.

Two other crashes occurred in the same area minutes before the trucks jackknifed. Three people were taken to hospitals.


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