Georgetown, CO- A Minnesota couple will have a story to tell their friends and family after they nearly escaped being crushed by lumber from a passing truck while driving on a Colorado freeway early Friday morning.
Albert and Julie Watkins were driving along 1-70 on their way back to Denver after hiking in in Vail when they noticed a lumber truck spitting out smoke. Albert told 7 News that he and his wife had just emerged from the Eisenhower Tunnel when they saw the truck which was at the time under the driver’s control and slowing down.
A few moments later, the truck began passing all of the other motorists in the right lane. It was then that Albert Watkins thought the truck was in trouble.
“I told Julie, ‘the trucks in trouble,’” Watkins said. “And a few seconds later I said, ‘we’re in trouble.’”
The truck carrying a load of lumber began to fish tail and slammed into the Watkins’ rented vehicle, pushing it into a guardrail while a large bundle of lumber rolled on top of their vehicle. Lumber was scattered all over the highway.
Fortunately, for the Watkins, they were able to get out of their badly mangled vehicle through a passenger window once the vehicle came to a stop. The Watkins emerged from the crash relatively unscathed, but for a few scratches on Julie’s arms.
A Georgetown resident, Richard Gorman told 7 News that he didn’t hear brakes, just “a roar and this sliding/grinding sound.”
The rogue truck overturned and its load spread across the interstate which had to be closed for a few hours while crews cleaned up the debris.
The truck driver, identified as Justin Knapp, told police that he lost oil pressure and his motor seized up prior to the accident. He said he had no power for the brakes or the horn.
Knapp didn’t sustain serious injuries.
Watkins told 7 News that he learned a lesson from this accident. “I will never, ever again pass a truck that’s starting to smoke,” Watkins said. “That’s what I take away from this.”
This accident could have ended more tragically than it did, but, fortunately, for all those involved this accident was not fatal. According to the Department of Transportation, out of the estimated 500,000 truck accidents that occur each year, 5,000 end in fatalities.
Drunken driving, speed and driver exhaustion or distractions are leading causes of truck accidents, but mechanical failure is also a large contributor. Drivers and companies who own these large rigs are responsible from making certain they are mechanically sound before they are allowed on the highway. Some mechanical failures are unpredictable, but if an investigation reveals that a an truck accident could have been prevented by regular maintenance or necessary repairs, individuals who are injured of the loved ones of those who are killed can file a lawsuit to recover their medical and property repair costs along with compensation for their emotional distress. With the help of a truck accident attorney, collision victims will get a fair and just settlement.