Colorado is associated with dangerous roads. Drivers face mountainous terrain with hairpin turns and icy conditions. Compounding those dangers are the multitude of semi-trucks that travel around Colorado every day, sometimes with drivers who are sleep-deprived, under the influence of dangerous substances, or engage in risky driving behavior.
In 2016—the last year for which there is Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data available—there were 86 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks in Colorado. It was the highest number of annual large truck-crash fatalities in the 10 years leading up to and including it.
The figure, though, is unsurprising considering recent headlines in Colorado, where numerous fatal truck crashes occurred throughout April and into May, including a deadly crash in Sterling that killed all four members of a family visiting from Michigan.
Slick Roads on I-76 Lead to Collision with Semi
April 7, 2018
The four members of the Toth family were in Colorado for spring break when the minivan they were driving collided with a big rig at around midnight. The semi had jackknifed and was blocking all eastbound lanes of traffic on I-76 near Sterling. The Toths, also heading east and unable to stop, skidded into the trailer of the semi, and the roof of the minivan was sheared off in what is known as an underride accident. Everyone inside the van died.
Nate Eller is also from Michigan and was driving home with his family after a trip to Utah when he encountered the accident scene.
“The roads were real slick,” Eller said in an interview with The Detroit News. “It was dark and maybe a little foggy with some snow. I wasn’t getting any traction. I slammed on my brakes and we were going to hit the semi. It was a near-death experience.”
The Ellers avoided the semi, stopping instead in the median, and Nate Eller got out to check on the scene ahead.
“As soon as I ran up to the [minivan], I knew no one had made it,” he said. “It was very bad…it was a helpless feeling. It made me realize it could have been us.”
The truck driver, who officials have not identified, and a male passenger traveling with him, were uninjured, and Colorado State Patrol (CSP) continues to investigate the moments leading up to the crash. It is unclear whether the truck driver attempted to warn oncoming traffic of the trailer blocking the lanes.
Grosse Point, Michigan Mourns the Loss of a Family in Sterling Truck Crash
The Toth family included 48-year-old Thomas Toth, 48-year-old Christina Daskas-Toth, 11-year-old Sophia Toth, and 8-year-old Elianna Toth, who was known by friends as Ella. They lived in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, where Christina was a lawyer (who had worked as a Wayne County prosecutor for a time) and Thomas was a packaging engineer with Chrysler. The couple had adopted their two daughters, who are remembered at their school, Maire Elementary, as excellent students and loved by all.
Michael “Miko” Steinberg was friends with Thomas Toth for a long time and was in shock following the fatal Sterling truck crash.
“It’s numbing. These were beautiful people. This was a beautiful family,” Steinberg told The Detroit News. “You think of four people gone.”
Semi Fails to Stop for Slowed Traffic in Pueblo, Killing One
May 1, 2018
Officials believe an incident involving a semi-truck earlier in the day was the catalyst for a deadly big rig accident about nine miles north of Pueblo on I-25.
The first fatal accident, at approximately 10:30 a.m. near mile marker 113, involved a passenger—21-year-old Jose Luna Duran—jumping out of a 2011 Jeep Wrangler into the road and being struck by a 1996 International tractor-trailer that could not avoid hitting the man.
Investigators were still examining the scene when the second accident occurred, at approximately 12:40 p.m. near mile marker 109. Colorado State Patrol trooper Arthur Gumke said that a 2006 Kenworth tractor that was driving north and transporting a tanker trailer did not slow as it approached the traffic and struck at least four vehicles. Sixty-one-year-old Steven Aikman, a passenger in one of the vehicles, died at the scene and three drivers from other vehicles involved in the accident were hospitalized with undisclosed injuries.
Aikman was a chaplain with the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP) and was well-loved there.
“Steven Aikman provided immeasurable support, guidance, and inspiration for CMHIP’s patients and staff as one of the hospital’s chaplains and most respected leaders,” CMHIP chief operating officer Victoria Gallegos told The Pueblo Chieftain. “Steven’s memory will be cherished. Our thoughts and prayers are with Steven’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
CSP officials say that the semi-truck driver in that crash will face charges, though they did not specify what the charges will be.
18-Year-Old Seriously Injured in Highlands Ranch Truck Crash
April 10, 2018
Colorado State Patrol continues to investigate a Highlands Ranch crash between a semi-truck and a passenger vehicle that left an 18-year-old man with serious injuries.
The crash occurred just before 5:00 a.m. on Highway 85 near Brandon Drive and involved a Honda Civic, driven by the 18-year-old man, and a semi-truck, driven by an unidentified 48-year-old.
Details have not been given as to how the two vehicles collided, but CSP officials say that the Honda driver sustained serious injuries and went to Littleton Adventist Hospital for treatment. The big rig’s driver was uninjured. Officials do not expect drugs and alcohol to be factors in the cause of the crash.