Monday, February 18, 2008

Losing control of the trailer, caused Padilla to lose control of his truck, which jack-knifed into the path of a semi-truck that was northbound in the

Lakewood man killed in crash on icy I-25
Pamela Dickman

A 36-year-old Lakewood man was killed Saturday when his truck slid into the path of a semi-truck, off the icy Interstate 25 near Berthoud and into the median, where it was pinned underneath the semi.

Two adults and three teens were in his Dodge pickup, headed to the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland for a state band competition.

They were 13 miles away when they crashed, closing the northbound interstate for about six hours.

Andy Padilla, the driver, was pronounced dead at the scene, Colorado State Patrol Trooper Gilbert Mares said.

All four passengers were taken to Medical Center of the Rockies after they were freed from the Dodge pickup, which was crushed underneath the semi.

Jaqueline Alba-Torres, 15, was airlifted to the hospital, where she remained in good condition Saturday afternoon.

Christina Lucero, 36, Jason Lucero, 16, and Douglas Ruiz, 16, were taken by ambulance, treated and released.

Padilla was driving north in his Dodge pickup, pulling a utility trailer that reportedly contained band equipment for the Alameda High School students.

At 6:22 a.m., eight minutes before the teens could begin checking in for the Rocky Mountain Percussion Championships, the trailer fishtailed.

Losing control of the trailer, caused Padilla to lose control of his truck, which jack-knifed into the path of a semi-truck that was northbound in the parallel lane, Mares said.

When the semi hit the Dodge, the pickup rolled onto its top in the median.

The semi then careened into the median and over the pickup, stopping on top of it and trapping the five inside, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

All five were wearing their seatbelts.

The driver of the semi-truck, 54-year-old Don Brashears of Loveland, was not injured.

The crash closed the northbound lanes of the interstate at the Berthoud exit until noon during the rescue and aftermath. Traffic was rerouted onto the Frontage Road.

Investigators are still piecing together what happened, but weather appears to be a factor.

Mares said troopers believe Padilla was driving too fast for the icy roads, the result of a spring storm that dropped just enough snow to ice the roads.

Meanwhile, 72-year-old Jerry Hankins of Longmont was reported to be in critical condition at Loveland’s Medical Center of the Rockies on Saturday night after being taken there for treatment of serious bodily injuries he suffered in a single-vehicle rollover accident south of Longmont.

Hankins, a backseat passenger in a 1994 Ford Explorer, was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from that sports utility vehicle while it was rolling over after the driver lost control on an icy bridge on Colo. Highway 119 near Airport Road at about 9 a.m. Saturday, the CSP’s Mares said.

The SUV’s driver, 46-year-old Elaina Johnson of Longmont, was treated for injuries at Longmont United Hospital and released. Another passenger — Marty Hankins, 38, also of Longmont — declined medical attention, Mares said.

According to the CSP’s accident report, Mares said, Johnson was northbound on Colo. 119 when she lost control on the bridge, with the vehicle dropping off the right side of the roadway and rolling twice before coming to rest on its wheels. Jerry Hankins reportedly was ejected during the second roll.

Several other crashes also occurred Saturday morning in Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties, authorities in those areas said.

“It was really, really dangerous,” Loveland Police Sgt. Bob Shaffer said. “It was like a sheet of ice.”

A Longmont police dispatcher said Saturday afternoon that as many as four accidents happened inside the city on icy bridges that morning, but that there were no serious injuries reported in those crashes.

On Saturday night, a Colorado State Patrol dispatcher said motorists and officers were “getting hammered” by highway crashes on icy roads in Weld County — particularly on Interstate 76 and nearby roads — and in Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

Boulder County highways, however, appeared to be relatively calm insofar as Saturday night reports of road conditions and accidents, the CSP dispatcher said.

Times-Call reporter John Fryar contributed to this report.

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