Lakewood, COLO. (CBS4) – At least four people are dead after a crash involving at least 28 vehicles on I-70 at Denver Park West Thursday afternoon. Westbound lanes of I-70 reopened on Friday afternoon.
The victims have not been identified.
A semi driver, identified by Lakewood police as Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, is facing four counts of vehicular homicide related to the accident.
Westbound lanes of I-70 reopened at 2 p.m. Friday. Engineers assessed the overpass and determined that it was in good shape and worthy of cars driving under it.
The four people who died were each the single-occupant in their car.
“We’re still trying to identify what some of the cars even are,” said Ty Countryman with the Lakewood Police Department.
Aguilera-Mederos was hurt in the crash on Thursday afternoon, but not seriously.
Ten other people were rushed to Saint Anthony Hospital. As of Friday morning, all of them had been released but one. He is in good condition, according to hospital officials.
Firefighters did not get the fire completely extinguished until around 10 p.m. and that’s when traffic investigators finally started their work.
That’s when the number of fatalities started going up. Agent Ty Countryman with Lakewood Police explained that’s when they could clear the debris from the semis and the cars they could see. Investigators then found more cars under the semis.
Twenty-four cars and four semis were involved in the deadly crash.
Countryman says the approximate cause of the crash is the semi driver who was hauling a load of 2×4 lumber. “I can’t go into the facts, it’s still evidence we’re building. We feel at this time we have enough probable cause to charge vehicular homicide.”
Countryman did say at this time drugs and alcohol do not seem to be involved. A mechanical inspection will be done on the semi but the amount of heat from the damage may make that inspection incomplete.
“There’s evidence of witnesses and video and things like that as opposed to mechanical evidence,” he said.
Countryman did clarify, “We don’t have any indication that was an intentional act by the driver at all.”
Investigators worked to remove the wreckage of burned cars and semis on Friday morning. Once those vehicles were removed westbound lanes were reopened.
Before the highway can reopen in both directions, CDOT will have to remove the top layers of pavement and replace it.
CDOT says it is anticipating having to mill out asphalt then re-pave the stretch of I-70 burned in the accident.
Drivers are urged to avoid the area during the closures.
Eastbound I-70 detour:
- Take US 6 east to Denver then north on I-25 to I-70
- Or take US 6 to Kipling or Wadsworth, then north to get back on I-70