AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A father is looking for answers and solutions after his 23 year old daughter, Dawn Patterson, of Aurora, died following a traffic accident on Nov. 19. Aurora police said Patterson crashed into a garbage truck that was broken down in a middle lane of Interstate 225.
Patterson was driving on the southbound I-225 interchange from the I-70, around 10:40 p.m., when she crashed, traveling at highway speeds, into the garbage truck, police said.
“She had head fractures, fractures of the face, the eye, the nose, the mouth, three broken ribs, a broken pelvis and a hip dislocated,” said her father, Stephen Woolfolk. “It was like being in a bad dream.”
Woolfolk said his daughter underwent two surgeries and stayed in the intensive care unit for two weeks before she passed away on Dec. 1 as a result of her injuries.
“Her little body had just been through too much trauma, basically it couldn’t heal itself,” Woolfolk said.
Since her death, family and friends have been trying to learn more about what exactly happened the night of the crash, but Woolkfolk said he has not gotten much information from police, hoping to even learn the name of the company that owned the garbage truck involved, or what precautions, if any, could or should have been taken by the garbage truck driver when the truck broke down in the middle of an interstate.
CBS4 learned from an Aurora police spokesperson the garbage truck had a “vehicle malfunction” causing the truck to “lock up.” When the garbage truck driver first broke down, he got out of the truck and sat in a friend’s vehicle parked on the side of the interstate to wait for a tow truck. Police said the garbage truck driver did not call 911 to notify authorities that his large truck was blocking the interstate, although the police spokesperson told CBS4 there is no requirement to call 911. The police spokesperson also said the truck driver did not put up any orange cones to warn oncoming drivers, although the spokesperson was not aware of any law requiring that, either.
Police said about five minutes after getting in his friend’s car, the truck driver heard the crash.
Police said no one witnessed the actual crash, but when the garbage truck driver saw what had happened, he called 911.
The police spokesperson did not have information regarding the owner of the garbage truck, and referred CBS4 to the department’s traffic division. Officials with that division were not immediately available for comment Sunday.
The police spokesperson said a traffic investigator has been assigned to the case to determine whether any criminal negligence occurred.
Meanwhile, Woolfolk wants to warn the public to be attentive while driving. He also hopes other truck drivers will learn from his daughter’s death in the future to ensure oncoming drivers are aware of any potential hazards.
“It would be nice if people would learn to carry a cone or two for those emergency moments,” Woolfolk said.
Patterson’s family has a great deal of hospital expenses and funeral costs to pay for, and has set up a GoFundMe page to help. If you would like to help the family, you can donate by clicking here.
Woolfolk is also starting a public awareness campaign to look into possible legislative changes that would require the use of cones when trucks and cars break down on highways.