Semi rolls on Rabbit Ears

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A 22-year-old man climbed out of the cab of a semitrailer after it tipped over and slammed into the side of an embankment on Rabbit Ears Pass on Wednesday night.

Lujan Manuel Fuenles of Tornilla, Texas, had no injures Wednesday night, but his rig, carrying 41,000 pounds of powdered milk, was severely damaged, Colorado State Patrol Trooper Brett Hilling said. Fuenles was the only occupant of the truck.

Fuenles was westbound on U.S. Highway 40 near Sky Valley Drive when the truck started to turn over going around a sharp curve, Hilling said. The accident was reported about 6:40 p.m. Wednesday.

The cab of the truck slid along the ground as the trailer was forced up. The cab came to rest along the side of the road and the trailer came to rest on an embankment.

The truck stopped just below the turn-off for Sky Valley Drive, which has been the site of numerous tractor-trailer accidents.

Hilling said the preliminary investigation indicated that Fuenles probably was traveling too fast down the pass, and the brakes couldn't slow him down. The smell of burned brakes was pungent almost an hour after the crash.

The semitrailer overturned on the passenger side, allowing Fuenles to push open the driver's side door and climb out.

"It was the only thing left on the (truck) that was not damaged," Hilling said.

The accident site was strewn with spilled boxes of powdered milk, and the cab was completely destroyed, Hilling said. The total weight of the truck and cargo was more than 75,000 pounds.

Reports indicated Fuenles was driving from El Paso, Texas, to Craig.

The truck hit a delineator and a wood guardrail on the side of a hill, just after the turnoff for Sky Valley Drive.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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