A driver of a pickup was killed Wednesday afternoon in a motor vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40 just east of Hayden. The crash occurred shortly before 3 p.m. when the westbound pickup and a semi-tractor trailer, which was headed east near mile marker 113, collided. The driver of the semi was transported to Yampa Valley Medical Center, and the pickup driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The highway was shut down in both directions for hours, and traffic was rerouted onto Routt County Road 80 and C.R. 70.

Photo by John F. Russell

A driver of a pickup was killed Wednesday afternoon in a motor vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40 just east of Hayden. The crash occurred shortly before 3 p.m. when the westbound pickup and a semi-tractor trailer, which was headed east near mile marker 113, collided. The driver of the semi was transported to Yampa Valley Medical Center, and the pickup driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The highway was shut down in both directions for hours, and traffic was rerouted onto Routt County Road 80 and C.R. 70.

Craig man dies in Wednesday crash on US 40 near Hayden

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— A 30-year-old Craig man died Wednesday in a car crash on U.S. Highway 40 about 1 mile east of Hayden.

Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg identified the man as William Kole Nielson. Ryg said Nielson's parents live in Craig, and he was married with two small children.

"They're very shocked and in disbelief," Ryg said.

“We’re hanging in there,” said Nielson’s father, Kent Nielson. “He had a heart of gold. He will truly be missed.”

Nielson was driving a pickup owned by Colorado West Bottled Drinking Water and Ice. Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said the crash occurred at about 2:35 p.m. at mile marker 109.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but Elliott said the Patrol determined Nielson was driving west and drifted into the eastbound lane. His truck sideswiped a semi going east driven by Colby Browning, 48, of Craig. They do not think he was at fault, Elliott said. The truck Browning was driving was owned by Peroulis Trucking in Craig.

Browning was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center with minor injuries. Nielson was pronounced dead at the scene.

U.S. 40 was closed for several hours because of the crash. Elliott expected that the road would reopen at about 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Traffic was initially detoured onto county roads north of U.S. 40. The detour was moved to county roads south of U.S. 40 when there was not enough traction for semis on the slick county roads north of U.S. 40.

An environmental crew was expected to work overnight to clean up about 75 gallons of diesel fuel that spilled from the semi.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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