The workers clear debris from the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 on Friday, April 26, 2019, in Lakewood, Colorado, a deadly pileup involving a semi-truck hauling wood on Thursday. Lakewood police spokesman John Romero is described as a chain reaction of collisions and explosions from ruptured gas tanks. “It was crash, crash, crash and explosion, explosion, explosion,” he said. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
LAKEWOOD, Colorado. – Four people have died after a truck hauling lumber lost control and plowed into vehicles on a busy highway in the vicinity of Denver, triggering explosions and a fire so intense that it melted the roadway and metals from cars, authorities said Friday.
“It was crash, crash, crash and explosion, explosion, explosion,” said John Romero, a spokesman for the Lakewood, Colorado, the police, describing the 28-vehicle chain reaction of explosions from ruptured gas tanks.
The driver of the truck, Are Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, 23, of Houston, was arrested on suspicion of automobile homicide if the police are investigating how the crash happened Thursday on Interstate 70.
Six people were taken to hospitals with injuries, but their conditions were unclear Friday.
“There is just a lot of debris from this crash that took place. The massacre was significant, unbelievable,” said another department spokesman, Ty Countryman.
Officials say Aguilera-Mederos, who sustained minor injuries, was headed down a hill when he lost control and slammed into traffic slowed by a crash for them with a school bus and a tractor-trailer.
In a hospital, Leslie Maddox said Denver news station KUSA-TV that her car was one of the people who are caught up in the crash. She was treated for a broken arm and nose, and credited two bystanders with preventing further injuries by pulling her out of her car after the crash.
“I have had the good fortune to live,” Maddox said.
There is no indication that the crash was intentional, or that drugs or alcohol were a factor, the Farmer said, with investigators looking at whether the brakes on Aguilera-Mederos’ truck were at work.
Interstate 70 is Colorado is of vital importance for the east-west highway between the mountains and the plains, and the traffic has grown worse as the state’s population has increased enormously.
The crash happened just after the motorway of the Rocky Mountains, where the signs warn motorists to check that their brakes are cool and work after the travel on the steep slopes. There are also slopes on hills from the sides of the highway for trucks that lose their brakes so that the drivers can exit and slow down.
Employees cleared, burned and mutilated wreck of the highway and worked quickly to replace the top layer of burnt pavement Friday. A burned tractor-trailer was barely recognizable when it was hauled away, except for the size and the chimney.
Aguilera-Mederos was scheduled to make his first appearance Saturday to be informed of his rights. A court may also consider bond. There was no information about whether he is represented by an attorney who could speak on behalf of him.
The prosecutors have no formal complaint filed, said Pam Russell, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County district attorney’s office.
Federal agencies overseeing the research. The National Transportation Safety Board, said the teams involved in the agency sees an opportunity to issue new safety recommendations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates and provides safety oversight for large trucks and buses, said that working with national and local authorities to help where it can.
Slevin reported from Denver. Associated Press writer Kathleen Foody in Denver contributed to this.