Combat Veteran’s Independence Halted In Fiery Crash

By Melissa Garcia

LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – Residents are dealing with the messy aftermath of a fiery wreck that sent flames shooting 50-feet into the air at a Littleton condominium complex.

Police evacuated dozens of residents from the Park Bellevue Condominiums just before midnight on June 15 after a semi-tractor crashed into a tree.

The tree came down onto the building and caught fire after one of the semi’s fuel tanks exploded, investigators said.

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(credit: CBS)

The semi driver is facing charges of reckless driving and driving without a commercial driver’s license.

Injuries suffered by the driver and by first responders were minor.

Damage at the property, however, was extensive.

“This needs to get cleaned up,” said Ryan Beach, whose parked car was struck by the semi.

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Ryan Beach talking with CBS4’s Melissa Garcia (credit: CBS)

Oil-logged dirt, smoke-stained brick, and open cable wiring from the crash were still visible outside the building 30-days after the accident.

Police said that the driver of the semi, which was hauling vehicles, lost control of his truck and plowed into three parked cars before slamming into the tree just feet from the building.

“I don’t depend on other people to get me from point A to point B,” Beach told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia.

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Ryan Beach talking with CBS4’s Melissa Garcia (credit: CBS)

Beach, 28, is a combat veteran. He was still in a rental car a month after the wreck, and was still making payments on his loan for the totaled Jetta that he had not yet been reimbursed for.

“You would just think (that) if something like this happens, you’d be taken care of,” Beach said. “That’s what laws are for, to protect people. But, this whole situation, I have not been protected, at all.”

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(credit: CBS)

Beach, who was wounded on one of three tours overseas, said he had had to reschedule some medical appointments while waiting on the trucking company’s insurance to pay for the damage.

“Just even for me to get a rental, it took twelve days,” he explained.

He felt like the independence he had worked hard for had been put on hold.

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(credit: CBS)

“I’m extra-careful. I’ve never been in a wreck,” said Beach. “But one person can come on your property and take it away… This should not happen to any law-abiding tax-paying citizen, period.”

The trucking company’s insurance, Progressive, declined to comment, stating the reason for that was that parts of the claim were still pending.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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