Collision, gasoline fire claim a man’s life | VailDaily.com
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Collision, gasoline fire claim a man’s life

Christine Ina Casillas

A 42-year-old man died Monday after hitting a gas pump and another truck at a Texaco gas station in Edwards.

At about 8:50 a.m., the driver, whose name has been withheld, apparently suffered a medical seizure, losing control of his white Dodge Ram 2500 van and crashing into another customer pumping gas at the Edwards Station on Edwards Spur Road, said Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy.

The collision caused the gas pump to catch fire, scorching the top of the canopy and melting parts of the truck, which was struck on the other side, said Colorado State Patrol trooper Jeffrey Gowin.

“He completely melted the second truck that was in the way. But the other one wasn’t too bad,” Gowin said. “It was a pretty good little accident there.”

The driver of the van was transported to the Vail Valley Medical Center, Gowin said. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. No other injuries were reported.

“I cannot believe nobody else was hurt,” said Kathy Warren, spokeswoman for the Eagle River Fire Protection District. “I don’t how the other two guys (from the truck) got out of the way in time.”

“I heard a thump’

Paul Golden, vice president of the property management company for the Edwards Station, said the van ran into the gas pump on the western gas island.

“I heard a thump from my second-floor office window,” Golden said. “When I looked out I saw a lot of smoke and fire.

“I have to really give credit to the girls working inside,” he added. “When they realized what happened, they immediately hit the gas shut off, and I ran to the propane refill station to shut off the gas.”

The fire wasn’t caused from a gas tank explosion but from the collision of the vehicles, Warren said.

When Eagle River Fire Incident Commander Lt. George Wilson arrived, he witnessed explosions and large amounts of smoke and flames burning up to 30 feet high on the facade of canopy with the two cars engulfed in flames.

“There was some residual fuel from the hose that caught on fire, but the gas station has an automatic emergency shut-off system that stops any gas from escaping,” she said.

“Gas tanks do not blow up,” Golden added. “If a tank is knocked off the base or someone drives off with the hose still in the vehicle, the program triggers and automatically shuts the gasoline off. This type of system is imperative because of the 80,000 gallons of gas stored underground. If the emergency shut-off does trigger, the maximum amount of gasoline still in the tank and hose is about 5 gallons.”

Man inside

While the flames were being extinguished, Wilson broke into the van through the sliding-door, Warren said, then notice someone was still in the car.

Eagle River Fire Protection District firefighters helped removed the driver from the van, Warren said.

The driver of the van apparently was with Sprint Express, based in Grand Junction. The second truck, meanwhile, apparently was from Green Valley Landscaping, a landscaping company based in Edwards, she said.

The two men, Juan Corral and Jarolav Uhrin, said the accident happened fast. They said they thought the van was going to turn, running from the gas island at the last minute.

“We’re trying to sort things out now, but apparently the guy crashed into the gas pumps and caused the fire,” said Chris Dudar, operations manager at the Edwards Station Texaco. “It was five to 10 minutes before the fire was out. I really didn’t have time to think.”

Gowin added: “It made for one heck of a morning.”

The accident is under investigation by the Colorado State Patrol.

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.


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