Interstate 70 westbound back open after fatal accident in Dowd Junction shuts it down most of Tuesday
Early-morning crash shuts down highway for hours as crews work to clear scene
EAGLE COUNTY — An early-morning accident Tuesday in Dowd Junction resulted in one fatality, and closed the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 for much of the day. Westbound I-70 reopened at about 5:50 p.m.
According to Colorado State Patrol Master Trooper Gary Cutler, the first call about the crash came in at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. While the investigation isn’t yet complete, Cutler said it appears that a tractor-trailer rig jackknifed, then was hit by two other tractor-trailers and a pickup truck.
The name of the person killed in the crash hadn’t been released as of Tuesday afternoon. Cutler said two other people were transported via ambulance to a Denver-area hospital. One of those people had significant injuries. The second person was reported to have minor injuries.
The crash scene brought responders from around the eastern part of the valley, including the Vail Fire Department, Eagle River Fire Protection District, Eagle County Paramedic Services and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
The eastbound lanes were closed for about three hours so emergency crews could work safely. The westbound lanes remain closed until about 5:50 p.m. Traffic was diverted to U.S. Highway 6 and 24 while the interstate was fully closed. Westbound traffic continues to be diverted.
The accident also caused one of the fuel tanks to rupture in one of the tractor-trailers. That required a hazardous materials team to clean up the leaking fuel.
Eagle River Fire Protection District public information officer Tracy LeClair said that the department was busy much of Tuesday morning with the Dowd Junction accident as well as incidents near Wolcott. LeClair called those the department’s “two most active” areas in bad weather.
Also Tuesday morning, U.S. Highway 6 was closed for more than an hour due to a head-on accident.
The highway was closed between Cooley Mesa Road and Earhart Drive.
Sheriff’s Office representative Amber Barrett said initial indications show the driver of a purple Ford Thunderbird lost control on the icy road and hit a Honda CR-V head-on. The driver of the Thunderbird sustained significant injuries and was transported by ambulance to Valley View Medical Center in Glenwood Springs. The passengers in the Honda sustained minor injuries.
While those accidents were the most serious, Barrett said the Sheriff’s Office responded to “probably five” Tuesday morning accidents elsewhere in the county. Those resulted in only minor injuries.
Barrett said roads were warm when the snow started falling, creating icy conditions as the snow continued.
Besides the accidents in Eagle County, westbound I-70 was closed Tuesday for several hours due to a rockslide east of Idaho Springs. The Colorado Department of Transportation re-opened the highway just after 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday’s snow, which was especially heavy on the Front Range, came the day before what the State Patrol calls the busiest travel day of the year, the day before Thanksgiving.
In an effort to help drivers stay safe, the State Patrol will station troopers along the I-70 corridor between Denver and Utah between 1 and 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Those troopers will be stationed no more than 20 miles apart.
The Colorado troopers will be joined by troopers from the Utah Highway Patrol at and just past the Colorado/Utah state line.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2930.
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