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Semi crash sends one to hospital

A semi driver was air lifted to Mercy Regional Medical Center on Jan. 12 with serious internal and head injuries following problems with the semi’s brakes that led to a crash.

Terry Longbotham, of Oregon, was driving a 1999 Freightliner tractor-trailer westbound on Wolf Creek Pass when the brakes on the tractor overheated, not allowing Longbotham to slow down for curves. The brakes on the trailer were not functioning correctly, said Colorado State Patrol Troopers Scott Fenwick and Doug Wiersma.

Longbotham negotiated the hairpin turn near the overlook, but failed to negotiate the second hairpin on his way down the pass, where he rolled one-quarter times and struck the guard rail, Fenwick said.

Personnel from the Pagosa Fire Protection District responded with three units and eight firefighters, who extricated Longbotham from the semi’s cab.

“The entrapment of the vehicle, it was severe in that his head was located between structural portions of the cab and the ground, so we had to be very careful about how we went about moving the metal away from him,” said PFPD Chief Ron Thompson.

The extrication took 20-30 minutes and Longbotham was air lifted to Mercy.

The PFPD then controlled the engine oil and diesel fuel spilled onto the highway during the accident.

Longbotham was charged with driving a defective or unsafe vehicle.