Dinosaur crash victims' names released

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— The names of the victims involved in a fatal crash near Dinosaur on July 11 have been released.

Bryan Whittington, 40, of Louisiana, and Robert White, 42, of Wyoming, were killed in a high-speed crash officials called one of the worst crash scenes they had seen. They were the only two in the vehicles.

Names were not originally released because dental records were needed to prove identity.

Alcohol is suspected to be a factor; however, Moffat County Coroner Owen Grant said toxicology reports still are a couple of days out.

The crash occurred at 8:43 p.m. on U.S. Highway 40 near mile marker 11.

Whittington was driving a Ford F-150 - hauling a camper trailer - eastbound. His vehicle was traveling partially in the westbound lane, according to a Colorado State Patrol report.

Whittington's vehicle collided with a Kenworth semi-tractor - belonging to BTI and driven by White - headed westbound. White was hauling a tanker, owned by Praxair, which had a full load of compressed carbon dioxide.

Both vehicles apparently were driving at or around the 65 mile per hour speed limit at the time of the crash, State Patrol Sgt. Chad Dunlap reported July 12.

The Ford was pushed backward by the crash and came to rest in the middle of the roadway. The Kenworth veered to the left and began to rotate counter-clockwise. The Kenworth and its tanker rolled 3/4 times onto its left side.

The tanker was punctured. Both vehicles caught fire.

A fire spread across both lanes of the highway, as well as the grass shoulder on the south side of the highway, Dunlap said.

The crash scene left little for investigators to determine the make of the vehicles, Dunlap said, saying the only way the State Patrol could identify the Ford was the tailgate.

"I've been a trooper for 10 years : and this is by far the most devastating crash I've ever seen," Dunlap said. "I don't mean devastating in terms of injuries or the fatalities. I mean the crash as a whole. I mean the damage, the severity of the heat involved with the fires."

The crash closed U.S. Highway 40 from the time of the crash until noon July 12, more than 15 hours after the crash occurred.

The Moffat County HazMat team responded to the accident at the request of the Colorado State Patrol HazMat, which had a longer response time than Moffat County. Colorado State Patrol HazMat relieved Moffat County HazMat once they arrived.

Before the crash, Whittington quit his job July 7 working as a welding inspector while with Anadarko Petroleum. When Whittington quit, he was working at a site south of Vernal, Utah.

Comments

id04sp 7 years, 5 months ago

Okay, so here's the question. Carbon dioxide is used in fire extenguishers. It could NOT have "fed" the fire.

Something doesn't add up here.

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madmoores 7 years, 5 months ago

Excellent point id04sp, I have been wondering the same thing since first news of this accident. My best guess is that the diesel tanks ruptured(sometimes 100 gallons worth)and were ignited by heat and sparks along with the probable 36 or so gallons of unleaded in the pickup. Still, it seems like the total devastation was a bit much for so little fuel. I am assuming that this accident fits the same scenario that happened on I-70 last week when a rig hauling drill mud lost control, flipped over and burst into flames going down Genesee towards Denver. The ensuing fireball traveled up the embankment(at least 30 feet uphill)into the westbound lane and the rig, with driver, literally melted. Anyone care to take a stab at why these accidents were so hot when they carried inert loads?

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id04sp 7 years, 5 months ago

Madmoores,

I think you've got it. Temperatures have been high. Although gasoline will vaporize at low temperatures, diesel fuel (kerosene) has to be significantly heated before it will reach its "flash point." That's the temperature where it will spontaneously vaporize and can be set off by a spark. I found a "material safety sheet" that says 100-125 F is sufficient for diesel to be set off by a spark. It will "autocombust" without an external spark around 210 C.

If 100 gallons of diesel fuel had a chance to come up near 100 F, it wouldn't take much more heat to raise the remainder of the stuff to the flash point and it would all go at once. This is different from where a pool of diesel fuel can support a flame on top without the whole volume going up at once until it heats up to the flash point.

If the 18-wheeler sat around for a while at temperatures in the 90s or higher, the fuel wouldn't have to be heated very much by the initial fire in order to reach the flash point.

I recently burned several gallons of waste oil and transmission fluid with some other trash. Wow. Talk about a hot fire. It didn't last very long, but it "cooked" everything within 15 feet. (Okay, eco-Nazis, come and get me!)

If this crash had occurred in cooler weather, it probably would not have been so bad. I guess most people are not aware of the hazards of having "warm" fuel around. I knew that the reason jet fuel used on ships is amost pure kerosene is to help prevent fire damage, but never thought of it as a highway hazard.

Anybody else out there in favor of increased speed enforcment for 18-wheelers during hot weather?

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