Man critically injured in seven-car accident |

Man critically injured in seven-car accident

Daily Staff Report
Vail, CO Colorado
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyFireighters and paramedics prepare to remove an passenger from a small pickup truck involved in a seven-vehicle collision Thursday afternoon on I-70 in Vail.

VAIL ” A man was critically injured Thursday after a Coca-Cola semi truck speeding through slow construction traffic on I-70 in Vail caused a seven-car wreck, police said.

The driver of one of the vehicles was flown to Denver in critical condition, but the Vail Daily couldn’t confirm his condition Thursday evening. Three passengers in other vehicles suffered minor injuries.

A canoe could be seen rammed through the windshield of the Coca-Cola truck, which was tangled up with two cars in a big metal heap on the westbound lanes of I-70. Three other wrecked cars were seen nearby, while another was rammed hundreds of feet away.

The pile-up happened around 2 p.m. in front of the Vail Post Office. The I-70 westbound lanes were closed until 4:40 p.m. and backed up traffic. Cars were re-routed to North and South Frontage roads.

The accident happened in stand-still traffic, Vail Police Sgt. Dan Torgerson said.

“The semi Coke truck struck a vehicle in the right lane, and two cars ended up pinned underneath it,” Torgerson. “That started a chain reaction.”

The driver of the Coca-Cola truck was definitely going too fast for the traffic, Torgerson said. Police couldn’t confirm by press time the actual speed of the truck and whether charges would be filed against anyone.

Firefighters had to free the critically injured man from his truck with the jaws of life. The man was breathing at the scene but wasn’t conscious, Torgerson said.

Sydney Carpenter, 12, and Kelsey Carpenter, 14, said they were driving in from Michigan with their mom, dad and little brother for a family vacation of hiking and camping. In the blink of an eye, they were rammed by the car behind them.

Sydney said she remembers grabbing her brother, her parents looking back to check on them and her dad saying, “You’re kidding me” as they were hit.

“Thought we were just coming for a nice relaxing week,” Kelsey Carpenter said.

Patrick Croghan of Eagle-Vail said he was about two cars behind the accident.

“All of a sudden (I) saw a white plume of smoke ” I thought it was gravel falling off a truck,” he said. “Then I saw some kind of wreckage and thought ‘Oh my god.'”

Several other drivers got out of their vehicles to see if they could help any of the victims.

“We were all trying to help but the wreckage of the truck needed more power than we could imagine,” Croghan said.

Meanwhile, as the interstate closed and traffic backed up, people got out of their cars on the Frontage roads to watch. It took one driver 40 minutes to get back on the interstate from South Frontage Road, and likely took other cars much longer.

“I didn’t see it happen, but I definitely heard it from a way back,” said Skylar Morgan, who was driving on South Frontage Road and about to head to Denver. “You think you have a bad life, but then you see something like this happen.”

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or

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