A truck driver was seriously injured after he lost control of his tractor-trailer and crashed into a hillside on Rabbit Ears Pass about 10:45 a.m. Friday.
Colorado State Patrol Trooper Rick Kaspar said it appeared that the westbound semitrailer had lost its breaks before it skidded and fell onto its side near mile marker 141, near the entrance to The Timbers.
The driver, Bruce A. Harvey, 40, of Chicago, Ill., had to be removed from the cab of the truck, Kaspar said. An ambulance took Harvey to the Yampa Valley Medical Center.
Kaspar said Harvey was in serious condition when he was taken to the hospital.
Kaspar said there was a runaway truck ramp about two miles behind the point where Harvey had crashed.
"He missed the truck ramp," Kaspar said. "I don't know why."
Craig resident Todd Combs was traveling in front of Harvey on U.S. Highway 40 until he saw the semitrailer rapidly approaching in his rear view mirror.
Combs said he pulled over into a ditch to let the truck pass, then continued following behind it.
He said he saw the tractor-trailer's tires smoking.
"I knew he was going to wreck," Combs said. He called the police shortly before Harvey skidded out of control and hit the hillside.
"The whole truck just started going over and then he slammed into that bank," Combs said, pointing to where the semitrailer had crashed. "You didn't see anything. It was just a big ball of dust."
Kaspar said the semitrailer, which was carrying beer, spilled some diesel fuel in the crash. The trailer was torn open and beer bottles and cartons littered the area.
Combs told police he thought the semitrailer was going at least 65 mph. The speed limit in that area is 50 mph.
Because the semitrailer skidded and landed on the side of the road, leaning against a hillside by a shallow ditch, traffic was not stopped in either direction after the accident. But police signaled for motorists to drive slowly while emergency crews surveyed the scene.
The Routt County Sheriff's Office and Steamboat Fire and Rescue assisted State Patrol with the accident.
A similar tractor-trailer accident happened at the same location June 9. The driver in that accident suffered minor injuries.
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