Jerry Neff, a crew supervisor with West Range Reclamation, cleans up after a semitrailer that had drifted into his lane sideswiped the truck he was driving. The eastbound truck hit three cars before coming to a stop on U.S. Highway 40 just past the Walden turnoff.

Photo by John F. Russell

Jerry Neff, a crew supervisor with West Range Reclamation, cleans up after a semitrailer that had drifted into his lane sideswiped the truck he was driving. The eastbound truck hit three cars before coming to a stop on U.S. Highway 40 just past the Walden turnoff.

Semi side-swipes cars on the eastern side of Rabbit Ears Pass

No major injuries in crash

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Three cars and a semitrailer were damaged Thursday afternoon when a semitrailer veered into oncoming traffic on U.S. Highway 40 near the foot of Muddy Pass. There were no major injures in the crash, but the road was closed temporarily as emergency crews responded.

Joseph Martinez, the driver of a flatbed semitrailer, told Colorado State Patrol Trooper David Kerker he fell asleep at about 1 p.m. Thursday while driving east toward Kremmling near mile marker 159 on U.S. 40, about a mile past the junction with Colorado Highway 14 in Grand County, Kerker said.

The semi drifted into the westbound lane and hit the left side of a westbound Dodge truck pulling a trailer and the front left of a westbound Ford Expedition, Kerker said. The driver of a Honda SUV tried to avoid the accident by pulling off the road, and it hit the back of the Expedition, Kerker said.

State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said Martinez, 55, will be cited for careless driving causing bodily injury, a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by six to 18 months imprisonment, or a $500 to $5,000 fine, or both.

Martinez, from Denver, was hauling for the U.S. Mix concrete company, but the truck was empty at the time, Elliott said.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue emergency responders, Grand County EMS emergency responders, Colorado Department of Transportation workers and Colorado State Patrol responded to the crash.

Traffic was halted temporarily as crews responded and the road was narrowed to one lane as crews removed the cars.

There appeared to be no major injuries to the drivers and passengers involved, Elliott said.

All four vehicles sustained damage. The semi lost its front wheels and was towed off the road at about 2 p.m. The white Dodge truck lost its rear axle and transmission, as well as the contents of its trailer. The Expedition lost its front left wheel, and there was some damage to the Honda. As tow trucks arrived at the crash scene, Kerker said all vehicles would be towed, with the possible exception of the Honda. At 5 p.m. tow trucks remained on scene as gasoline and oil were cleaned from the roadway before all cars could be removed.

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