Icy I-70 put responders in peril
February 26, 2008
SUMMIT COUNTY Icy roadways led to a massive pile-up on Interstate 70 Monday afternoon involving four cars, one Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue vehicle, one state patrol car and a semi-truck. While responding to a previous accident involving four vehicles, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Kelly Wagner had parked his Chevrolet Tahoe on the far right side of the west-bound lane near the Frisco exit. Following protocol, Chief Wagner had parked with all his emergency lights on and was standing only a few feet away from his vehicle when he heard the sound that saved his life. Coming down the highway behind him was an out-of-control semi-truck blaring on the horn as it skidded sideways toward his vehicle.Chief Wagner quickly jumped to a safe position in the snowbank on the right-hand side of the road, just narrowly avoiding the impact.It was the closest call Ive ever had on the interstate, that is for sure, said Wagner after the crash. The semi crashed into the rear of Chief Wagners command vehicle and pushed the Tahoe into the vehicles involved in the original accident. Luckily, all the parties involved in the previous accident had already been transported to St. Anthonys Summit County Medical Center or safely moved from the area. Within minutes of the semis impact, a Colorado State Patrol Trooper approached the scene and also lost control on the ice, impacting the left front drivers side door of Chief Wagners vehicle.According to Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue public information officer Brandon Williams, this is not the first time rescue crews have been at risk on the icy roadways. Things like this happen all the time and even the most junior of our officers have had to dive into snowbanks and such to avoid out-of-control vehicles, said Williams. Thankfully, no one was killed in this incident, and LDFR hopes this incident serves as a reminder to everyone to simply slow down on the interstate, particularly when there are emergency responders trying to help others in trouble, Williams added. According to Williams, nearly every close call incident on the interstate can be directly attributed to excessive speed for conditions. The interstate conditions on Monday went from dry to snowpack and extreme ice in a short distance heading westbound, catching many motorists by surprise.People need to know they have to drive in accordance with the conditions, said Williams. Nothing in this world is worth the risk of speeding and causing an accident.Ashley Dickson can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.