DENVER (CBS4) -It was a tough drive along Interstate 70 Sunday morning after a winter storm left icy patches along the highway. Those slick spots are being blamed for numerous crashes.

State troopers say several accidents happened one right after the other. All but one happened in the eastbound lanes of I-70 near the Genesee exit. The crashes kept all lanes closed for more than two hours.

One driver said he got the worst of his drive from Summit County to Denver when he was coming over the foothills in Genesee.

“I was driving down and the road had turned to ice. I saw cars all over the place,” Ken Orlin said.

Orlin’s car was the last one to get pulled out of the snow from a massive pile-up.

“I decided I had to make a choice of whether to park in somebody’s back end or in a ditch. I chose the ditch,” he said.

“We had a group of about five cars that were traveling too fast for the conditions of the roadway,” Sgt. Michael Gartner with the Colorado State Patrol said. “We had several crashes that came in behind them.”

Even emergency responders were involved in the wreck.

“We had another car that slid into the back of a fire truck and then that created another chain of reaction of multiple cars behind them at the 254,” Gartner said. “The fire truck was already on scene, stopped in the lane of traffic to protect the scene ahead of them.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

In total there were about 25 cars that had some kind of crash because of the ice.

“It was a parking lot,” Orlin said.

Orlin said the snow off the shoulder was his best option.

“There was nothing I could have done. I would have hit cars if I didn’t go in the ditch,” he said.

“Just because the speed limit is set at what it is, in bad conditions we have to slow down and give more room to the car ahead of us,” Gartner said.

The traffic backed up on Sunday morning on I-70 (credit: CBS)

The traffic backed up on Sunday morning on I-70 (credit: CBS)

One person was taken to the hospital but was immediately released. No other injuries were reported.

“I came out very lucky,” Orlin said.

The Genesee closure backed up traffic about five miles, but when it reopened at noon, that’s right about when this ski traffic was getting bad. The delays into Denver reached about 45 minutes.

Blowing snow and icy conditions kept I-70 closed at Airpark Road overnight. I-70 reopened at 7 a.m. Sunday but then closed again just a few hours later because blowing snow and snow drifts were causing dangerous driving conditions. Road crews opened both directions of I-70 later in the afternoon.


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