Fatal crash on I-70 roils mountain traffic
A fatal crash on Interstate 70 late Tuesday morning ground traffic through the mountains to a halt for hours and sent throngs of vehicles spilling onto Summit County roads to make a long detour to the Front Range on Highway 9 through Breckenridge.
At around 10:30 a.m., the driver of a semi truck traveling westbound drifted into the eastbound lanes and smashed into an overpass at Empire Junction near mile marker 232, according to the Colorado State Patrol.
A man believed to be the driver died at the scene, and a woman passenger on the overnight sleeper truck was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries. As of late Tuesday afternoon, CSP did not have an update on the woman’s condition.
“There is still an open investigation into the cause of the crash,” CSP spokesman Josh Lewis said during an afternoon call with reporters. “It does not appear that drugs or alcohol were factors right now.”
The crash left the truck’s mangled cab wedged underneath the overpass bridge on the side of the road, and crews struggled into the afternoon to remove it. By 3 p.m., westbound lanes on I-70 were re-opened, and the eastbound lanes closed at exit 203 were expected to re-open within the next two hours. Loveland Pass remained closed.
Throughout the afternoon, Colorado Department of Transportation crews were rushing to repair guardrails in the center median taken out by the truck. Engineers were also on scene to assess any possible damage to the bridge.
“There doesn’t appear to be serious bridge damage yet, but we won’t know for sure until we get the truck completely out,” CDOT spokeswoman Stacia Sellers said during the call.
Lewis said there were no other serious injuries in the crash, but several passenger vehicles suffered minor damage from flying debris. The Clear Creek County Coroner’s Office would determine whether or not the driver suffered a medical event that may have caused the crash, he said.
Throughout the afternoon, traffic on Highway 9 through Frisco to Breckenridge was severely gridlocked as drivers made the winding detour around Summit County.
By 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, all lanes were reopened at Empire Junction.