Semi strikes trailer on I-70, seriously injuring couple |

Semi strikes trailer on I-70, seriously injuring couple

Robert Allen
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark FoxTow truck drivers sweep debris off the Interstate following a semi and passenger vehicle accident westbound near Dillon Valley Thursday afternoon. Skid marks from the tractor-trailer are visible in the debris which include contents of a small trailer pulled by a Ford Explorer.

SUMMIT COUNTY – A Denver-area couple was seriously injured Thursday afternoon when a runaway semi truck hit their camper trailer descending westbound Interstate 70 from the Eisenhower Tunnel.

Michael Harlan, 59, of Michigan was driving the semi when it lost its brakes; he was unable to use the truck ramp because it was occupied.

The victims, a man and woman estimated to be in their 60s, were in a Ford Explorer pulling a camper when the collision occurred at about 1:40 p.m.

About 50 feet of guardrail was ripped out, and the camper was nearly disintegrated – with contents such as food and camping gear strewn for about 100 yards. The Explorer was separated from the camper and came to a stop in the right lane, facing southeast.

The semi continued off the road for about 100 more yards before becoming wedged in a ditch. The driver sustained minor injuries.

A witness who asked not to be identified was driving on I-70 in the opposite direction when he saw the semi traveling at a high speed with smoke billowing out of its brakes.

“I just had a bad feeling,” he said.

Corporal Philip Gurley with Colorado State Patrol said the semi apparently tried to squeeze between two vehicles but hit the Explorer.

It took 45 minutes and the Jaws of Life to remove the roof from the SUV and free the couple. Ambulances from two neighboring counties were called to assist Summit County Ambulance Service, which transported the victims to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.

Harlan was also taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, said trooper Nate Reid with CSP.

Westbound I-70 was closed for nearly two hours – with traffic diverted through Highway 6 over Loveland Pass – as responders worked to clear the mess.

The lower Straight Creek ramp is the most-used of six along the highway’s mountain corridor.

SDN reporter Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

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