Fatal truck crash cripples I-70 travel | AspenTimes.com

Fatal truck crash cripples I-70 travel

This photo provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation shows a semi-truck crumpled against a bridge after hitting the structure early Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007, and exploding and forcing the closure of Interstate 70 near Grand Junction, Colo. Officials report that at least one person died in the wreck outside the community on Colorado's Western Slope. (AP Photo/Colorado Department of Transportation)
AP | Colorado Department of Transport

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” At least one person was killed and an 11-mile section of Interstate 70 was closed after a semi-truck carrying chemicals crashed and exploded Wednesday, crippling an overpass in this western Colorado city.

A second person was believed to be in the truck and was feared dead, authorities said.

Crews were waiting to make sure the overpass was stable before searching the charred wreckage. The crash snapped a support column but the bridge did not collapse.

“We have at least one fatality at this point and we don’t want anybody else hurt,” Grand Junction Fire Department spokesman Mike Page said.

“Anybody who was in the accident, there’s no way they could have survived this incident,” he said.

Traffic was being rerouted on side roads. About 19,000 vehicles a day use I-70 in Grand Junction, 200 miles west of Denver.

The westbound truck was carrying 55-gallon drums of hydrochloride, a corrosive chemical, when it crashed at 2:45 a.m., authorities said.

It careened to the right, took out 75 feet of guardrail, smashed into the support column and exploded, said Stacy Stegman, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

State highway engineers were expected to arrive later Wednesday to assess the damage and determine when the interstate can be reopened.

The bridge had six support columns, and the crash “essentially took out of one of the legs,” Stegman said.