Driver in I-70 wreck may actually be a lifesaver |

Driver in I-70 wreck may actually be a lifesaver

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Colorado Department of Transportation senior supervisor Adam Padilla said the actions taken by a truck driver who crashed on Interstate 70 Sunday may have saved lives.

The driver, Johnnie E. Martin, 61, of Ardmore, Okla., hit a microwave oven-sized rock at the 112 mile marker of the highway at around 2 p.m. Sunday. The rock had rolled down a steep hillside, and its path was still visible along the hillside Monday.

When Martin’s 2003 Freightliner hit the rock, its front axle broke, rendering the steering mechanism almost useless.

According to Padilla, with the little control Martin had left, he steered the rig off the right side of the highway, avoiding other nearby motorists.

“He went into the side instead of hitting someone,” Padilla said.

Martin suffered back, shoulder and head injuries. He was listed in good condition Monday by Valley View Hospital spokeswoman Alice Sundeen.

As Martin veered off the highway, his truck took out an Adopt-a-Highway sign, then flopped onto its side, causing its load of barrels to blast through the trailer’s roof.

Those barrels contained floor wax, but until Colorado State Patrol hazardous materials crews figured that out at around 4 p.m. Sunday, both lanes of the highway were closed for fear it was a hazardous material.

“It was closed for the protection of the public,” Padilla said Monday morning. “This morning we closed it for about a half hour to upright the truck.”

The westbound lanes of I-70 were closed from 2-6 p.m. Sunday, much to the chagrin of those traveling west to watch the Super Bowl, which started at 4:25 p.m. Sunday. Eastbound lanes were closed from 2-4 p.m.

Glenwood Springs-based Blaine Ward Towing was at the scene Monday to flip the tractor-trailer back onto its wheels and take the wrecked hulk away. Once it was flipped up, one westbound lane was reopened.

Padilla said CDOT was doing everything possible to get the mess cleaned up before the Monday evening rush hour.

“CDOT’s mission is to keep the road open, at least one lane open, at all times,” he said.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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