LAKEWOOD, Colorado — The driver of a semi that caused a deadly, fiery 28-vehicle crash on I-70 in Lakewood, Colorado on Thursday afternoon will face vehicular homicide charges, authorities said Friday morning.
Ty Countryman with the Colorado Department of Transportation said 24 cars and four semis were involved in the crash, which killed “multiple people,” though an exact number was not yet available. The number of involved vehicles was much higher than Thursday’s estimation of 15, he said. Six people were taken to the hospital and he did not have an update on their condition.
An out-of-control semi carrying lumber caused the crash, he said. The driver of that vehicle was taken into custody on multiple counts of vehicular homicide. These charges stem from interviews and evidence gathered overnight, Countryman said. The driver, who was only identified as a man not from Colorado, was injured, but not seriously. There was no evidence of drugs or alcohol in his system, he said.
Countryman said the crash occurred around 4:50 p.m. in the eastbound lanes of I-70 near Colorado Mills Parkway.
Because of the large fire and explosions at the site, investigators couldn’t start looking at the devastation until about 10 p.m., when West Metro Fire Rescue was able to extinguish the last of the flames.
Authorities are building evidence from the scene, Countryman said. He said there are still bodies at the crash site and daylight will help with that recovery process.
Investigators are looking into if the semi’s brakes were not working, Countryman said.
Josh Laipply, chief engineer with CDOT, said they are going to assess the structural integrity of the bridge right next to the crash on Friday. They haven’t had the chance to get close enough to make a good assessment, he said.
Once the scene is cleared — there are still several vehicles on the roadway — they will inspect the bridge. As of Friday morning, he said CDOT does not expect to reopen the road until Saturday.
CDOT is also concerned about the pavement, he said. They are expecting to need to re-pave the asphalt. A fire of this magnitude, with temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, can turn pavement into rubble.