Two arrested for DUI after crashing into emergency vehicles at fuel spill near Hayden
February 6, 2018
HAYDEN — A messy situation grew even messier at the scene of an accident Friday along U.S. Highway 40 outside Hayden.
Two men were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after hitting emergency vehicles in two different incidents following the crash of a fuel tanker en route to Yampa Valley Regional Airport. The truck rolled when its driver attempted to turn from U.S. 40 onto Routt County Road 51A.
Cleaning up the spill
The tanker rolled a quarter-turn onto its side and began leaking jet fuel under the highway.
Between 80 to 100 gallons of fuel spilled into a culvert beneath U.S. 40. The semi was carrying about 6,700 gallons of fuel. Colorado State Patrol and Craig Fire/Rescue hazardous materials teams plugged the leak with wax rings and placed dykes at the end of the culvert to contain what had already spilled. The fuel remaining in the tank was transferred to another truck.
“The trailer dropped off the side of the road, and it just overturned a quarter of a turn,” said Cpl. Jason Shimp, of Colorado State Patrol. “It turned over on its right side and just lifted the truck/tractor, or the power unit, off the ground a little bit.”
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U.S. 40 was closed for about eight hours as crews worked to contain the leak, and traffic was re-routed via Routt County roads 27 and 37. The highway re-opened at 11:13 p.m. Assistant Airport Director Tinneal Gerber said flight operations were not affected, and passengers used detours to reach the airport for the day's final departing flight.
The driver, 61-year-old Patrick Cluck, of Utah, was transported to Yampa Valley Medical Center, where he was treated for a concussion and released the same evening. He was cited for careless driving.
Savage Sweets Inc., a Salt Lake City transportation company, owned the truck. Savage Sweets and its insurance company will be responsible for ensuring the spill is cleaned up. Fuel spills often require contaminated soil to be dug out and removed, Hampton said.
Routt County Environmental Health Director Scott Cowman visited the site Monday and said the emergency responders had done a good job containing the spill. Cowman is helping state officials facilitate clean up efforts.
Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Department of Transportation, West Routt Fire Protection District, Routt County Sheriff's Office, Hayden Police Department, Craig Fire/Rescue hazmat team and airport operations/safety and maintenance staff responded to the scene.
Under the influence
About an hour after the crash, a Honda Pilot ignored a roadblock and continued eastbound toward the crash. Hayden Police Chief Greg Tuliszewski was outside directing traffic, and the Pilot hit his car, then continued west toward the scene of the semi rollover.
The 53-year-old man driving the Pilot stopped before reaching the crash scene, and troopers spoke to him.
“The driver was speaking incoherently, at first,” a trooper wrote in an arrest affidavit. “I immediately detected a strong odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage coming from his breath.”
The driver was unable to safely complete roadside sobriety tests, and he blew a .15 when tested at the Hayden Police Station, according to the affidavit. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI, DUI per se, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to notify police of an accident, reckless driving and for failing to present evidence of insurance.
About 10:30 p.m., a Nissan, driven by a 58-year-old Hayden man, struck a CDOT truck that was being used for traffic control at the east side of the roadblock.
Both vehicles had extensive front-end damage. The driver of the CDOT truck was not in the vehicle.
Troopers spoke to the driver of the Nissan and noticed he was unsteady on his feet and smelled like alcohol, according to an arrest affidavit.
The man told troopers he had consumed two beers. When troopers asked the man how drunk he felt on a scale of one to 10, the man said he was “pretty drunk,” according to the affidavit.
The man performed a breath test, and he blew a .14. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI and careless driving.
Steamboat Today reporter Matt Stensland contributed to this report.