Rockfall causes I-70 accident |

Rockfall causes I-70 accident

Falling rocks are blamed for a scary Halloween night tractor-trailer crash that closed both westbound lanes of Interstate 70 in South Canyon.

A large boulder tumbled down the north face of the cliff at the 112 mile marker of the highway around 8:30 p.m. Thursday. The truck ran over the boulder, veered out of control and rolled onto its side. The driver, Bruce Harris, 64, of Glendale, Utah, was not injured in the crash.

When the truck ran over the boulder, its steering axle was damaged, causing Harris to lose control. The semi slammed into the left-side guardrail, slid nearly 200 feet and landed on its side in the median.

“Harris was fortunate to have walked away from this accident without injury,” a Colorado State Patrol news release said.

The rockfall is one of the first reported this season, but it likely won’t be the last. A rock that fell off the canyon wall about two miles west of Thursday’s accident in the stretch of highway known as “Hell’s Gate” took the life of a 7-year-old boy on Jan. 14.

According to Colorado Department of Transportation officials, the large rock slid down the cliff and crushed the passenger side of the vehicle where the child was sitting.

Each winter, freeze-thaw weather cycles cause the rocks to loosen and eventually fall. Barriers were placed next to the highway shoulder after accident in January, but they don’t catch all debris.

The left side of the westbound lane remained closed Friday as CDOT workers put up a temporary barrier in place of the wrecked guardrail.

Rolls of metal sheeting could also be seen littering the median of the highway. They were apparently thrown from the truck during the accident.

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