Crash near Rifle spills 4,000 gallons of oil |

Crash near Rifle spills 4,000 gallons of oil

Ryan Hoffman
The Colorado 13 bypass just west of Rifle city limits was closed between Garfield County Road 244 and Railroad Avenue for approximately six hours Tuesday.
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

A two-vehicle collision Tuesday morning caused a leak of approximately 4,000 gallons of crude oil on the Colorado 13 bypass near the Rifle city limits.

And while the driver of one of the vehicles appeared to have escaped without significant injuries, law enforcement had yet to locate the driver and any possible passengers in the other vehicle.

“The driver has not been located yet,” Colorado State Patrol Trooper Nate Reid said Tuesday.

CSP was notified about the crash, which reportedly occurred at 5:53 a.m. around mile point 2 on Colorado 13.

A Saturn sedan was heading south on the highway as a semitrailer hauling crude oil was heading north. The Saturn drifted into the northbound lane and struck the semi-truck “side to side in the opposite direction,” according to Reid. That caused the sedan to rotate and led the semi trailer to run over the rear passenger end of the sedan.

The semi then jackknifed, struck a guardrail and tipped onto its side.

The driver of the semi, a 32-year-old Grand Junction man, complained of an injury but stayed on the scene Tuesday morning. Any occupants in the other vehicle left before law enforcement arrived, according to Reid.

CSP did determine an address for the Saturn’s registration, but Reid could not confirm if a trooper visited the address. He expected more information to be available Wednesday morning.

An estimated 4,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the semi trailer, which led to a prolonged closure of the highway. Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority sent a notification of the closure around 7 a.m. Tuesday, while the Colorado Department of Transportation was notified about 20 minutes earlier, according to its website Tuesday morning.

The communication authority sent another notification stating the road was open around 1 p.m. When hazardous materials spill in a crash, crews must remove the substance from the road, as well as remove any saturated dirt. Typically that process takes several days, according to Reid.

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