WELD COUNTY, Colo. - Southbound U.S. Highway 85 in Weld County was closed for over five hours Saturday afternoon after a fatal crash that killed a tow truck driver and injured a Colorado State Patrol trooper.
The accident was reported around 1 p.m. at Weld County Road 6, between Brighton and Fort Lupton.
According to the State Patrol, the tow truck driver was in the left southbound lane of the highway, sweeping up debris from a previous crash. The trooper’s cruiser was directly behind the tow truck in the left lane, displaying flashing merge arrows.
“The southbound F-250 collided with the rear of the trooper’s vehicle, knocked it off the side of the road and collided with the tow operator,” said CSP Sgt. Mike Baker.
A passerby told 7NEWS by phone that he helped pull the two truck operator out from underneath the pickup.
“He died a short time later,” the passerby said.
Authorities haven’t released the identity of the tow truck driver, but say he was employed at C & J Auto Service in Fort Lupton.
Staff members at the tow truck company declined to comment about the accident, saying it was too early. They did say that the operator who was killed had worked for C & J for 10 years.
The trooper was airlifted from the scene and taken to Denver Health Medical Center with what were described as non-life threatening injuries. His name has not yet been released.
Investigators say the driver of the pickup, Dana Beales, 61, of Ft. Lupton suffered minor injuries.
Beales’ family declined to talk about the accident, but did say they are praying for the family of the tow truck operator.
Investigators say the speed limit on that stretch of Highway 85 is 65 mph and that the pickup truck could have been traveling that fast.
They say visibility was clear and there was no apparent reason for drivers to not see the flashing lights on the trooper’s car and the tow truck.
Baker reminds motorist about a state law requiring motorist to move over when they see flashing emergency lights. He said many motorists aren’t following that law.
“We’re sick of it,” Baker said. “These tow operators, we work with them every day. They’re our partners. They’re our friends. We’re tired of it. It’s not acceptable for these accidents to happen anymore. People should know better than this.”
Both directions of the highway were closed initially, but the northbound lanes were reopened about 3 p.m. Southbound lanes reopened after 6 p.m.