Another rollover, another mess on I-70
September 2, 2009
SUMMIT COUNTY – A tractor-trailer that rolled on Interstate 70 early Monday morning spilled a large amount of paper goods, and clean-up continued Tuesday afternoon because of a delay related to insurance coverage.
“Clean-up has not gone as quickly and as efficiently as we’d like to see it,” said Captain Ron Prater with Colorado State Patrol. “It’s a bit distressing to see debris up and down the highway.”
The tractor-trailer’s driver, Pedro A. Hernandez, 52, and co-driver Arco Penado – both from Texas – were taken to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco after the crash.
The tractor-trailer had struck an unoccupied Colorado Department of Transportation track loader on the side of the road at about 1:53 a.m. Monday, Prater said.
Both men survived. Penado, who had been in the truck’s sleeper berth, was ejected from the vehicle, Prater said.
Steve Lipsher, spokesman for Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue, said the crash had caused some diesel fuel to leak from a damaged tank, but the paper debris absorbed the fuel, alleviating concerns.
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“Our guys said they were knee-deep in books,” he said.
Prater said greeting cards and school supplies were among the contents visible on the road, its shoulder and in nearby landscaping.
The companies that conduct recovery after such crashes are paid through insurance companies of parties involved. In this case, paperwork regarding payment on an insurance policy caused a delay in clean-up, which began on Monday.
This incident marks Summit County’s fourth tractor-trailer rollover in the past month. Others include a tractor-trailer carrying auto parts on Highway 9 near Green Mountain Reservoir, a tanker carrying milk on I-70 near Officer’s Gulch, and a tanker hauling diesel and unleaded fuels on Highway 6 descending westbound from Loveland Pass.
The driver of the milk tanker died; people involved in the rest of the incidents survived.
Greg Fulton, president of Colorado Motor Carriers Association, said his organization finds no correlation amid the recent streak of rollovers in the county.
“Every once in a while I’d say we’ve had some flukes like that,” he said. “Loveland Pass is always a challenge no matter what time of year. That route – I think we always have to continue to work with CDOT to try and make it even safer.”
He said tractor-trailer accident and fatality rates have consistently fallen in the past couple of decades, though no hard numbers were immediately available. Fulton said the accident rate of tractor-trailers is half that of automobiles.
Trooper Ryan Sullivan said the state patrol doesn’t track accidents or fatalities specific to commercial vehicles.