Truck careens off embankment near Blue River with 500 gallon propane tank
November 17, 2009
SUMMIT COUNTY – A 20-year-old Illinois man was flown to a Denver hospital Tuesday morning after he was found near a Toyota truck driven off a 60 foot embankment – along with a home’s 500 gallon propane tank. The mysterious crash occurred along the Blue River north of Silverthorne Monday night.
Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue firefighters discovered Ryan Davis of Spring Grove, Ill. near the crash scene at about 9 a.m. The homeowner had found the truck with no occupants and called 911.
“He was obscured in some willows,” LDFR spokesman Steve Lipsher said of Davis. “He was rocking back and forth and he was wearing only his boxer shorts. He was in advanced stages of hypothermia.”
Davis was in fair condition Tuesday afternoon at St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, said hospital spokeswoman Bev Lilly.
Hypothermia victims are known to strip and behave abnormally as the cold temperatures affect brain signals.
The homeowner said the previous night’s temperature dropped to about 3 degrees. The residents awoke about 1 a.m. after the truck had detached the propane tank used to heat their home.
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They checked the thermostat but didn’t go outside until about 8:30 a.m., Lipsher said
The truck is believed to have been traveling on Colorado 9 before turning at the residence’s driveway – about 12 miles north of Silverthorne near County Road 25 – on the east side of the highway before the unexplained crash occurred.
The truck drove “around the home to the north side between two telephone poles,” hit the propane tank and “somehow in the ensuing scene” both truck and tank went over the embankment’s edge, Lipsher said.
“The pickup truck never rolled – which might have been a saving grace,” he said. “It struck a tree and came to a rest.”
The residents believe the crash occurred near midnight, according to a LDFR press release.
Summit County Rescue Group, Sheriff’s Office and Ambulance Service joined the firefighters in wrapping Davis in a heated sleeping bag and assessing his medical condition. The obvious injury was exposure, Lipsher said.
Sheriff’s deputies and rescue team members searched the area after noticing what appeared to be a second set of footprints leaving the scene.
“They did not find another person,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Tracy LeClair said. “At this point they’re thinking it was just (Davis’s) footprints.”
It has not been confirmed whether Davis was driver of the truck registered to Jason and Donna Davis. The sheriff’s office is investigating the incident.
Lipsher said the red Toyota truck “suffered surprisingly little visual damage” after falling down the embankment.
“When they hauled it up the windshield was shattered and a fender was hanging off,” he said. “It sure looked like it was in pretty good shape.”
The recently-filled propane tank did not rupture, and firefighters vented it to release pressure.
Lipsher said two fire engine crews were deployed and that firefighters were “pretty pleased” with the outcome considering the circumstances.