McAccident

Truck mishap closes U.S. 40 over Rabbit Ears

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— A tractor-trailer carrying food and supplies for McDonald's slid down an embankment on Rabbit Ears Pass, forcing the closure of U.S. Highway 40 for much of the day.

The driver, whose name was not released, escaped unharmed after the truck rolled over on the driver's side near mile marker 149 before sliding down the hill.

The truck ran through several trees before finally coming to rest 50 feet from the embankment. The trees likely prevented the semi from sliding any further, State Trooper C.J. Tafoya said.

The driver went off the road around 6:30 a.m. and law enforcement closed the highway at the base of Rabbit Ears Pass at 10 a.m.

The highway remained closed into the evening, as state Transportation Department workers and towing crews worked to retrieve the truck.

Two tow trucks from Timberline Towing & Transport and one truck from Cook Chevrolet-Olds Inc. AAA Towing slowly hauled the truck up the hill and onto the highway.

The tractor-trailer weighed almost 70,000 pounds, and the supplies alone weighed about 35,000 pounds, Tafoya said.

Workers assembled a makeshift assembly line to move almost three-fourths of McDonald's frozen hamburgers, fries, buns, condiments and other supplies from the trailer into another trailer from Grand Junction.

"It was a very slow process, made worse by the cold," Tafoya said. "But we all worked together and got it done."

The unloaded weight made it easier for tow trucks to pull the rig onto the highway, he said.

The food was headed for McDonald's restaurants in Steamboat Springs and Craig, he added, but now it will be donated to area charities.

To reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4208

or e-mail dharrelson@steamboatpilot.com

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