Semi strikes trailer on I-70 in Summit County | VailDaily.com

Semi strikes trailer on I-70 in Summit County

Robert Allen
Summit County correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado – A Denver-area couple was seriously injured Thursday afternoon when a runaway semi truck hit their camper trailer descending westbound Interstate 70 from the Eisenhower Tunnel.

Michael Harlan, 59, of Michigan was driving the semi when it lost its brakes; he was unable to use the truck ramp because it was occupied.

The victims, a man and woman estimated to be in their 60s, were in a Ford Explorer pulling a camper when the collision occurred at about 1:40 p.m.

About 50 feet of guardrail was ripped out, and the camper was nearly disintegrated – with contents such as food and camping gear strewn for about 100 yards. The Explorer was separated from the camper and came to a stop in the right lane, facing southeast.

The semi continued off the road for about 100 more yards before becoming wedged in a ditch. The driver sustained minor injuries.

A witness who asked not to be identified was driving on I-70 in the opposite direction when he saw the semi traveling at a high speed with smoke billowing out of its brakes.

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“I just had a bad feeling,” he said.

Corporal Philip Gurley with Colorado State Patrol said the semi apparently tried to squeeze between two vehicles but hit the Explorer.

It took 45 minutes and the Jaws of Life to remove the roof from the SUV and free the couple. Ambulances from two neighboring counties were called to assist Summit County Ambulance Service, which transported the victims to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.

Westbound I-70 was closed for nearly two hours – with traffic diverted through Highway 6 over Loveland Pass – as responders worked to clear the mess.

SDN reporter Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.