Rescue effort falls short: Unknown cause of death claims truck driver’s life near Hayden | CraigDailyPress.com
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Rescue effort falls short: Unknown cause of death claims truck driver’s life near Hayden

Brian Soper
1-18FatalityBrianSoperMUGRGB

At a glance ...

A 52-year-old Brighton man was pronounced dead Monday afternoon about a mile west of Hayden.

Thomas Steinbach was driving east on U.S. Highway 40 when his tractor-trailer went off the road.

Craig Police Department officer Brian Soper, who was off duty at the time, and his brother, Stephen Soper, were driving behind the tractor-trailer.

The Sopers administered CPR to Steinbach for nearly 20 minutes before EMS arrived.

Steinbach’s cause of death is still unknown.

At a glance …

A 52-year-old Brighton man was pronounced dead Monday afternoon about a mile west of Hayden.

Thomas Steinbach was driving east on U.S. Highway 40 when his tractor-trailer went off the road.

Craig Police Department officer Brian Soper, who was off duty at the time, and his brother, Stephen Soper, were driving behind the tractor-trailer.



The Sopers administered CPR to Steinbach for nearly 20 minutes before EMS arrived.

Steinbach’s cause of death is still unknown.



Stephen Soper knelt beside an unresponsive Thomas Steinbach on Monday afternoon, performing CPR and hoping the efforts could save the man’s life.

“(I was) just hoping that he’d start breathing again,” Stephen, 45, said.

He and his brother, Brian Soper, an off-duty Craig Police Department patrol sergeant, were behind Steinbach’s tractor-trailer when it drifted off U.S. Highway 40 and into a ditch at around 1 p.m. a mile west of Hayden.

The Sopers found Steinbach slumped unconscious in the driver’s seat.

They performed CPR on Steinbach until a West Routt Fire and Ambulance crew arrived.

“I think we were actually working on him … (for) close to 20 minutes,” Brian Soper, 43 said.

But neither the Sopers nor the ambulance crew could revive the 52-year-old Brighton man.

Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg pronounced Steinbach dead at 2:20 p.m., the Colorado State Patrol reported in a news release.

State troopers and Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the scene at about 1:15 p.m., according to the release.

Brian Soper estimated 10 minutes elapsed from the time they stopped at the scene until troopers and deputies arrived.

The State Patrol is investigating the incident.

Drugs, alcohol or excessive speed are not believed to have been possible factors in the crash, said Sgt. Mike Baker, State Patrol public information officer supervisor.

Troopers have also ruled out weather conditions, he said.

Steinbach was hauling a load of fly ash — often a byproduct of burning finely ground coal for electricity — from Craig to Denver for U.S. Transport trucking company when his truck slid off the road.

According to the State Patrol, Steinbach’s cause of death is unknown. Ryg said Tuesday that he suspected Steinbach died of a heart attack. He said an autopsy would be performed.

Brian Soper said he also believes the driver may have suffered a heart attack.

“I think (Steinbach) knew something was coming on because he put his truck into neutral” before his truck went off the road, Stephen Soper said.

“If it would have hit him instantly, he wouldn’t have had time to put the truck out of gear and it would have stalled,” he said. “But it was running while it was sitting in the ditch.”

Fortunately, he said, there was no oncoming traffic when Steinbach veered into the opposite lane.

“I was just glad I was there,” Brian Soper said, adding that he’s also proud of his brother, who performed CPR for the first time Monday.

“I wish it would have had a better ending,” he said.

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