Accidents keep troopers busy

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Luke More of Gray Bros Auto Service waits for a front-end loader to return while cleaning up an accident on U.S. Highway 40 Tuesday morning. The truck rolled along a steep, left-hand curve near the base of the pass at the Timbers Villas Condos.

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A sedan rests on a hill slope against a stand of aspen trees on Dean Vogelaar's property near Buffalo Pass along Routt County Road 38 on Tuesday morning. The vehicle's driver, who was not injured in the crash, lost control of the vehicle on a curve along the dirt road and careened down the hill.

— A 35-year-old Denver man was injured Tuesday morning when the semitrailer he was driving slammed into a rock embankment below the Timbers Villas condominiums on U.S. Highway 40, after the man's brakes apparently failed.

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Rick Kaspar said Devir Levitan was driving a 2000 International semitrailer down Rabbit Ears Pass at about 4:30 a.m. when the semi's brakes failed, sending Levitan past a runaway truck ramp into the embankment.

The semi's cab became detached from the tractor, which rolled onto its right side, Kaspar said.

Levitan was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident, but he suffered injuries to his right arm and lower back along with some road rash, Kaspar said. Levitan was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center to be treated for his injuries. He was released Tuesday.

No other vehicles were involved in the accident.

"It awoke the neighbors though, and they called us," Kaspar said.

Levitan, who was carrying a load of truck tires, hardwood flooring and shotgun shells, was traveling from Commerce City to Steamboat Springs at the time of the accident. Levitan works for Rac Transport of Commerce City, he said.

"Apparently he's been driving this route five days a week since August, and was familiar with the terrain," Kaspar said.

Levitan was coming down the 7 percent grade in 10th gear, which likely burned his brakes, Kaspar said.

"During interviews, (Levitan) said he couldn't downshift and that his brakes failed to stop after they had heated up," he said.

About 75 gallons of diesel fuel spilled onto the highway, Kaspar said. Colorado Department of Transportation crews worked to clean the spill Tuesday afternoon.

Levitan was cited for careless driving.

In other Colorado State Patrol action:

- An accident killed three cows on Routt County Road 6 south of Yampa on Monday afternoon. Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said New Mexico resident Rose Whitaker, 42, was driving a 1998 white GMC semitrailer hauling a full load of cattle when she lost control of the semi around a curve. Whitaker suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital, Elliott said. No other injuries were reported and no other cars were involved in the accident, Elliott said.

Whitaker was cited for careless driving, not having a commercial driver's license, and failing to comply with state Department of Public Safety regulations.

- A second car accident involving the same herd of cattle was reported at about 7:45 p.m. Monday on Colorado Highway 131 north of Yampa. Elliott said a vehicle driven by a Colorado Department of Transportation employee was struck by another car after the CDOT employee stopped to avoid hitting cattle that were standing on the highway. No cows or people were injured, Elliott said. The driver who struck the CDOT employee was cited for careless driving.

- Kaspar said 46-year-old Timothy Hannon of Steamboat Springs was riding a 2004 Suzuki VStorm motorcycle Monday morning when he apparently lost control on gravel on C.R. 33 north of Milner. Hannon suffered a minor collarbone injury and was taken to the hospital. He was not cited for the accident and was not speeding, Kaspar said.

- Kaspar said a car reportedly lost control coming around a curve on C.R. 38 and struck three aspen trees Tuesday morning on Buffalo Pass. No injuries were reported. The accident is still under investigation, Kaspar said.

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