Truck driver dies in fiery Vail Pass crash that closed Interstate 70 for hours Thursday and Friday
VAIL — The driver of a semi died Thursday afternoon when his rig crashed and burst into flames while descending Vail Pass on Interstate 70.
The 64-year old trucker from California, whose name has not been released, drove his 2011 Freightliner off the left side of the westbound lanes, through the median, through a construction zone, through the eastbound lanes, over an embankment and into Gore Creek, where it caught fire, said Trooper Josh Lewis, public information officer with the Colorado State Patrol.
No other vehicles were involved, Lewis said, and the crash investigation remains ongoing.
The trailer and cab broke apart during the crash. The trailer spilled some of its load of corn, and teetered on the edge of a drop-off. The truck’s cab fell into a deep ravine, where it caught fire.
To extinguish the blaze, Vail firefighters and Vail Mountain Rescue group members had to rappel into the ravine. Their work was complicated because the truck was between two waterfalls, one above the truck and one below, said Mark Novak, Vail’s fire chief.
Firefighters then lowered a hose to extinguish the fire, which had spread to some of the surrounding trees and plants, Novak said.
A water truck from Lake Dillon Fire Rescue provided water to fight the fire. Firefighters extinguished the blaze by 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
The eastbound lanes of I-70 were closed for four hours Thursday night, and they were closed again for a couple hours Friday morning as firefighters, rescue workers and first responders recovered the trucker’s body, Novak said. The Colorado Department of Transportation opened one eastbound lane to motorists just before 11 a.m. Friday but warned of continued delays.
Removing the truck will require a crane and will likely mean more road closures in the coming days, Novak said.
Assisting agencies included Eagle River Fire Protection District, Eagle County Paramedic District, Vail Mountain Rescue, Copper Mountain Fire Department, Lake Dillon Fire Rescue, Greater Eagle Fire District, U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Department of Transportation, Vail Public Safety Communication Center and Vail Police.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Wildlife questions, future development intentions cited in Garfield County’s denial of Aspen Glen request to remove eagle protections
Voting last week to deny a request by property owners to remove a protective bald eagle buffer zone at Aspen Glen near Carbondale was the first step for Garfield County Commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson. The second step came Monday when they put their thoughts to paper, spelling out six specific reasons in a formal resolution denying the request.