Colorado State Patrol: Alcohol, drugs, excessive speed not factors in crash that sparked wildfire

The charred remains of the truck that collided with a Volvo SUV, starting the Eagle River Fire, is ready to be hauled away Friday near Eagle.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

A head-on collision between a Volvo SUV and a Peterbilt dump truck on U.S. Highway 6 near milepost 155 is what sparked Thursday’s 27-acre wildfire between Wolcott and Eagle. A preliminary investigation by the Colorado State Patrol indicates that drugs, alcohol, or excessive speed were not factors in the crash.

The driver of the SUV, a 71-year-old Vail man, was transported to the hospital with serious injuries, while the driver of the dump truck did not sustain any serious injuries.

The accident is still under investigation, but Master Trooper Gary Cutler with the Colorado State Patrol said the preliminary reporting indicates that the SUV driver veered into the oncoming lane, causing the collision. The SUV became engulfed in flames following the crash, sparking the blaze that shut down both Highway 6 and Interstate 70 for hours as emergency crews and firefighters rushed to the scene. The ensuing fire then engulfed the dump truck as well.

“We do not believe drugs, alcohol or excessive speed had anything to do with it,” Cutler said.  “Just the lane violation. I know we are going to cite the individual, but we do not know what that is going to be. It’s still under investigation. We’ve got the on-scene investigation done, and now they’re just putting everything else together to make sure it all matches up.”

The driver of the SUV was heading westbound on Highway 6 before colliding with the dump truck in the eastbound lane. The notes on the incident didn’t indicate which speed the vehicles were traveling, but Cutler reiterated that excessive speed above the posted speed limit was not a factor in the crash.

The posted speed limit on that stretch of Highway 6 is 55 mph.

This story is from

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.