Trucker killed on Rabbit Ears Pass
Steamboat Springs — In the five years State Trooper Brad Keadle has been responding to crashes on Rabbit Ears Pass, he said he has never seen a crash as bad as the one that took the life of a 34-year-old Thornton man.
Stanley Nathan Perez was killed early Monday morning after his semitrailer pulling a tanker carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel rolled over at about mile post 140 of U.S. 40, Keadle said.
The wreck of the tanker caused authorities to divert traffic from the area for close to 10 hours.
“The truck was annihilated,” Keadle said. “It was one of the worst truck crashes I have ever seen.”
Perez, who works for a Denver-based trucking company, James Inc., was delivering the gasoline to Steamboat Springs. He was traveling westb on U.S. 40 during snowy, icy conditions when the wreck occurred at about 5:45 a.m., Keadle said.
“Perez was coming down a left-hand curve when he drove off the right side of the road,” the trooper said. “The truck rolled three-quarters and came to a rest on the driver’s side.”
Perez was crushed under the cab of the red 1997 International, Keadle said.
The crash is under investigation, but Keadle said he believes the slippery conditions and speed played a factor in the crash.
“He was driving too fast for conditions,” the trooper said.
Thirteen members from the Steamboat Springs and Colorado State Patrol hazardous material teams responded to the crash to deal with the fuel.
The team members took precaution in transferring the 8,500 gallons of fuel to another tanker, which the company provided, Keadle said.
In all, about 100 gallons of gasoline was lost because of the incident, he said.
Once the fuel was transferred to the other tanker, the mangled tractor-trailer was removed from the scene. The pass was reopened at about 4 p.m., Keadle said.
While the pass was closed, traffic was diverted onto Gore Pass, he said.
Immediately after the wreck was reported, Routt County Coroner Doug Allen was called to the scene. Allen pronounced Perez dead at 5:54 a.m.
An autopsy will be performed by Allen’s office because the fatality occurred while Perez was working, Allen said. Allen expects the autopsy to be conducted in the next few days with results available by the end of the week.
The wreck is the second fatality to occur on Rabbit Ears Pass this year.
On Feb. 4, Shervin Butler was killed coming down the west side of the pass. Butler lost control of his semi trailer probably because of brake malfunction.
This is the eighth time a motorist has been killed on the pass since 1998. In 1999, four people died while traveling on the pass. In 1998, two people died because of two car crashes 20 days apart in November.
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