Careless driving cited in Loveland Pass tanker crash
summit daily news
LOVELAND PASS – Careless driving was cited as the cause of a dangerous tanker accident last week near Loveland Pass. The transport vehicle – driven by Bernell Begay, age 28 – was carrying 7,000 gallons of petroleum when it rolled over a westbound Highway 6 embankment above Arapahoe Basin Ski Area Friday, leaking about 500 gallons. The tanker was traveling from the Front Range to the Western Slope when the wreck happened around 10:30 a.m.
According to a State of Colorado traffic accident report, the tanker was traveling westbound on Highway 6 (milepoint 222.25) when it entered a hairpin curve with “too much speed for the sharpness of the curve.” The trailer rolled onto its right side and crushed the guard rail, causing the tractor to roll onto its passenger side and then onto its roof. The vehicle came to a stop with its tractor facing north and the trailer facing east, hanging as far as 10 feet beyond the barrier.
Begay – who was driving for Gilco Transportation, Inc. of Rifle – was flown to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver with serious injuries and then was later released.
The tanker’s spill was contained without fuel ignition, and hazardous materials crews with Colorado State Patrol used booms and pads to contain and remove the gas that was draining below the embankment before it reached the Snake River’s north fork.
Denver Water spokeswoman Stacy Chesney said Friday’s accident will not likely impact Dillon Reservoir “because of the measures taken to contain it.”
“We have a spill model program to help us determine how long it would take a spilled chemical to reach Roberts Tunnel and/or the Blue River outlet based on the quantity of material spilled,” Chesney said. “This helps us determine the appropriate steps to take when a spill occurs. Because of the amount from the spill that occurred Friday, we did not need to shut off the tunnel because the fuel was contained by the first responders (fire department), Denver Water and the environmental contractor.”
A tow truck used winch lines to secure the tanker from rolling the down the steep embankment, and an empty tanker was taken to the scene to pump fuel from the wrecked tanker’s five compartments.
Robert Allen contributed to this article. Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at email@example.com.