The Colorado State Patrol is investigating a two-vehicle crash that resulted in one death on U.S. Highway 491.
About 7:35 p.m. Wednesday, a black 2011 Dodge pickup was headed northbound toward Cortez on U.S. 491 at milepost 5, south of the U.S. Highway 160 junction, the State Patrol said. It collided with a semitrailer hauling onions and potatoes, and both vehicles caught fire.
The Dodge driver died at the scene, and the driver of the semi escaped without serious injury.
U.S. 491 remained closed from 8:05 p.m. to 11:53 p.m. for investigation and vehicle recovery, at which time it reopened to traffic.
A hazmat team was called out because of concerns with the semitrailer. The semi remained on-scene for later recovery. The name of the driver of the pickup was being withheld for notification of next of kin.
Multiple agencies in Montezuma County, including several engines from the Cortez Fire Protection District, responded to the crash site.
On Thursday morning, Kent Baxstrom, maintenance supervisor for Colorado Department of Transportation Region 5 Section 3, surveyed the scene and said he found no damage to infrastructure on U.S. 491. The burned-out semitrailer was about 450 feet south of the wrecked pickup and debris lined the road. He said a CDOT plow helped clear the highway Wednesday night.
Baxstrom said he spoke to a tow company, and he expected both vehicles to be removed by Saturday. The job would likely involve a backhoe and tow truck.
“You can’t just load it up,” Baxstrom said.
State Patrol Trooper Gary Cutler said he did not know the identity of the pickup driver.