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Bad week for semi drivers

The driver of a semi tractor-trailer is facing charges of careless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol following a crash on Wolf Creek Pass Sunday morning.

At about 10 a.m. Sunday, a semi tractor pulling a trailer loaded with potatoes was descending Wolf Creek Pass, westbound on U.S. 160, when its driver, Enrique A. Martinez, 44, of Grand Prairie, Texas, lost control and the truck became a runaway, said Trooper Randy Talbot of the Colorado State Patrol.

Martinez drove off the road trying to cut the last corner before the lower runaway truck ramp on the pass in an attempt to be able to use the ramp, Talbot said.

As Martinez tried to use the ramp, the trailer overturned, causing the tractor to overturn onto its left side and slide up onto the ramp, where its roof impacted the snow, Talbot said.

The trailer separated from the tractor and spilled its load; however, the incident did not block the highway, Talbot said.

Talbot indicated that the primary cause of the accident was that the semi was in too high of a gear for the grade of the road, though he said it is suspected that alcohol was involved.

The investigation into the involvement of alcohol is continuing, Talbot said Monday.

According to Talbot, both Martinez and his passenger, Mary F. Hernandez, 44, also of Grand Prairie, were wearing seat belts and both were extricated by passing motorists.

Martinez was transported to the Pagosa Springs Medical Center with injuries and held overnight, while Hernandez suffered bruises, was treated and released, Talbot said.

Another accident Thursday night closed U.S. 160 for almost half an hour at mile marker 137.9, near Vista and Trails boulevards.

At approximately 11 p.m. Thursday, a semi tractor-trailer driven by Jesse McBride, 22, of Fort Worth, Texas, was traveling eastbound on U.S. 160 when it drifted off the right-hand side of the road for nearly 300 feet, at which point the truck struck a delineator post, said CSP Trooper Doug Wiersma.

The truck then traveled another 172 feet and rolled one-quarter of a turn onto its right side, sliding another 34 feet before stopping, Wiersma said.

McBride and his passenger, Roy Henze, 21, of Springtown, Texas, who was in the sleeper at the time of the accident, sustained minor injuries, Wiersma said.

McBride was cited with careless driving and the accident was attributed to inattentive driving, Wiersma said.

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