Tanker rollover closes U.S. Highway 40 on Rabbit Ears Pass
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with the driver’s name and more information about the chemical spill.
U.S. Highway 40 on Rabbit Ears Pass was closed for over seven hours Thursday night and into Friday morning after a semi-truck pulling a tanker truck hauling a chemical rolled over.
According to Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott, a trooper patrolling the area reported the crash about 5 p.m., and Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters responded to extricate the driver.
Elliott said the truck driver, Noland Hebert, 59, of Louisiana, sustained serious injuries in the crash and was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center. The truck Hebert was driving was registered to Quest Liner, Inc., of Dubuque, Iowa.
“The guy was fortunate that he survived the crash,” Steamboat Fire Chief Mel Stewart said. “The cab was completely destroyed.”
Stewart said the driver was later flown to a hospital on the Front Range.
During the crash, the cab of the tanker separated from the load it was hauling and both parts landed on the side of the road at mile marker 142 at the runaway truck ramp.
According to a news release issued by Elliott Friday morning, the truck was carrying approximately 42,000 pounds of Triazine, a hazardous liquid chemical, and almost all of the chemical was released when the tank ruptured in the crash.
A hazardous materials crew arrived at about 9 p.m. to clean up the spilled chemical. Elliott said local, state, federal environmental and health agencies were notified about the spill.
While the highway was closed, traffic was detoured to Colorado 131 to Colorado 134 to U.S. 40. One lane of U.S. 40 reopened to alternating traffic at 12:50 a.m. Friday.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
In addition to Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, the Colorado State Patrol was assisted at the scene by Routt County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado State Patrol HAZMAT Unit, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Routt County Health Department and the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office.