Semi crashes into Frisco Best Western |

Semi crashes into Frisco Best Western

FRISCO – Roger Gomez didn’t think his day could get any worse.

The Pueblo County sheriff’s assistant got separated from his boss at a fundraiser Thursday evening. Later, in Summit County, he lost his cell phone and dropped his cappuccino. He tried to buy a soda and came up two cents short of the $1.25 needed in the machine. Then hotel employees booked him into room 713 – a number whose individual numbers add up to 11, Gomez’s personal bad-luck number.

And late that night, a gasoline semi-tractor trailer veered off the interstate and crashed into the Best Western Inn in Frisco, where he and scores of other law enforcement officials were staying before a meeting Friday morning.

The semi was driving eastbound on Interstate 70 when it careened off the road, over a culvert, through a parking lot and an oversized planter before it embedded itself into the cinder block wall of the hotel.

Paramedics took the driver to Summit Medical Center. The extent of his injuries are unknown, but he was conscious when firefighters removed him from the crushed cab of his truck. State Patrol officers could not be reached to obtain a report of the incident. An estimate of the damage also was not available.

As bad as the incident was, it could have been so much worse, said Lake Dillon Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Berino.

For starters, the driver had just delivered 10,000 gallons of gasoline.

“If his truck had been full, (the momentum from the additional 80,000 pounds of weight) would have carried him well into the main lobby of the Best Western,” Berino said. “There were ample ignition sources in this unsprinklered building. We would have had a mass disaster and a large loss of life. It was no different than the World Trade Center: 10,000 gallons of gas driving into a hotel. And I don’t know if we could have put out (the fire) of a semi truck inside a hotel.”

Additionally, a culvert leading to Lake Dillon is situated between the interstate and the hotel, and if gasoline had spilled into the lake – the source of Denver’s municipal water – it would have been an environmental disaster.

Eighty-five people were staying at the hotel that night, and none was injured.

The impact shot cinder blocks into the pool area that had closed for the night about 50 minutes earlier. Friday, workers removed cinder blocks, crushed chairs and other debris from the pool.

The truck also struck the only single-story element of the four-story hotel.

The driver missed the neighboring Alpine Inn, all the cars parked in the lot, two parking area lights and four electrical posts bus drivers use to keep their engines warm at night.

Two hotel guests in the lobby said they heard a crash. One said it sounded like a garbage truck hitting the building. Another said he thought it sounded like the Jacuzzi blowing up.

“We got quite a startle when we arrived,” Berino said. “Here we are, pulling up at midnight, saying, “What am I looking at?’ There’s a semi sticking out of a hotel.”

The truck also missed the Alpine Inn – an all-wooden building that would have offered no resistance to a heavy truck.

Firefighters started to evacuate the west wing of the Best Western, but allowed people to return to their rooms when they learned the driver had no gasoline on board.

“We were lucky,” Berino said. “We dodged a huge bullet. Ten-thousand gallons of gas? I don’t want to think about it. We can count our blessings; someone was looking out for us last night.”

“Our day’s going much better now,” said Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino, who was staying with Gomez. “But I won’t be taking him with me anymore.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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