COLORADO, USA — Over period of three days, six crash-responder vehicles were struck despite weather warnings and traction and chain laws in place, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) said Tuesday.
The six collisions happened between Dec. 25 and Dec. 27 on Interstate 70. In all but one incident, first responders were conducting a crash investigation of other drivers when they too were struck by a passing motorist, CSP said.
“Road conditions can change in an instant, and drivers need to be prepared to stop or navigate difficult conditions,” warned CSP Col. Matthew C. Packard. “Last year, troopers around the state cited 482 drivers for violations related to tire and chain restrictions for vehicles of all types on our roadways. If you fail to prepare your vehicle properly, the crash you cause may not stop at property damage – it may take a life.”
Two crashes occurred on Christmas Day. In on instance, a CDOT plow operator had stopped to direct traffic for a crash on I-70 near milepost 53 when the vehicle was struck by a passenger van that was sliding out of control on the icy highway.
The plow was on the shoulder to the right of the fog line when struck, CSP said.
Also on that day, a CSP trooper was investigating a crash on I-70 near milepost 56 when his patrol car was struck by a passing motorist sliding out of control.
Two crashes were reported Dec. 26. In one, a CSP trooper was stopped on I-70 to protect a towing operations that required a lane closure. Despite, emergency lights on that included an arrow stick, CSP said, a Dodge Caravan crashed into the rear corner of the patrol car.
In another incident near Glenwood Springs, a trooper was also stopped on the highway handling a crash scene when their vehicle was struck. CSP said the vehicle that caused the crash did not have proper tires and lost control on the icy roadway.
The final two crashes were on Dec. 27. CSP said a Hazmat vehicle responded to a crash on I-70 in Glenwood Canyon that was blocking the roadway. A second vehicle lost control when it was trying to avoid the crashed car and hit the crashed car, pushing it into the patrol vehicle.
In the last incident, CSP said a Hazmat vehicle was parked on the side of the road on I-70 as a trooper was investigating another crash. A Dodge Ram spun out of control and struck the side of the patrol vehicle, CSP said. The driver of the Dodge Ram then fled the scene.
According to the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, as of Dec. 22, 2021, 63 deaths of first reporters have been reported nationally this year due to being struck on the roadside while working. Of those who died, 28 were law enforcement officers, the highest group accounted for, closely followed by tow truck operators (22).
“In each of these six crashes, the troopers and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) worker were able to return home to their loved ones,” Packard said.
“We know how lucky this truly is, and we know that the next crash may not have the same outcome," he said. "Slow down in snow and icy conditions, and for goodness sake, move over if you see roadside workers.”
In addition, drivers traveling I-70, should watch the weather forecast and prepare their vehicle. According to Colorado’s current chain law, all vehicles need to be prepared with adequate tires and equipment when traveling in Colorado during winter.
Chain law restrictions are announced through the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). At minimum, they will notify the public on static and electronic variable message roadway signs. In addition, this information is regularly announced through 511 traveler information, the official CDOT travel website (www.cotrip.org), and media outlets.
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