Tanker crash, spill closes U.S. 160 Saturday


Staff Writer

A portion of U.S. 160 west of Pagosa Springs closed for nearly 12 hours Saturday, May 4, following the rollover of a fuel tanker and subsequent spill of more than 1,000 gallons of fuel.

According to an incident narrative provided by the Colorado State Patrol, David Huckins, 26, of Flora Vista, N.M., was driving a semi tractor (a 1996 Peterbuilt) hauling a tanker trailer eastbound on U.S. 160 at mile marker 126 (between Colo. 151 and the Piedra River) at approximately 8 a.m., when he failed to negotiate a left-hand curve.

Upon failing to negotiate the curve, the truck and tanker left the right side of the roadway and rolled three-quarters of a turn down an embankment, coming to rest on its left side.

Initially, the tanker, which was carrying 7,500 gallons of gasoline and 1,000 gallons of diesel, was leaking at a rate of about 30 gallons per minute, the narrative states.

Hazmat responders reduced and later stopped that flow, with a total estimated spill of approximately 1,200 gallons.

Personnel from several agencies responded to the scene, including Hazmat crews from Alamosa and Cortez, and an environmental cleanup crew, said Christina Marquart, of Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office Department of Emergency Management.

Because of the incident, U.S. 160 was closed from 8:37 a.m. until almost 8 p.m. Saturday for cleanup and investigation. At 7:39 p.m., the eastbound lane was opened to traffic, with both lanes open at 7:48 p.m., said CSP spokesman Doug Wiersma. During the closure, vehicles were detoured through Ignacio via Colo. 151.

“Huckins was uninjured and a 10-year-old female passenger was transported from the scene by EMS (unknown destination) for non-life threatening injuries,” the narrative states.

Huckins was cited for careless driving causing injury.

The exact cause of the crash is still under investigation, and the owner of the truck, JC Hunt, of Blanding, Utah, has hired a contractor who is in the process of obtaining permits and is expected to begin the cleanup process within a week.