RED MOUNTAIN PASS – The driver of a semi-truck that crashed in the southern end of Ouray County on Thursday morning, Jan. 31, is expected to be issued a summons for driving hazardous material where they don’t belong – on Red Mountain Pass – according to the Colorado State Patrol.
Driver Bobby Howell, 50, of Nesbit, Miss. – driving for Florida-based Landstar with a load of 14 crated containers of highly flammable methanol – somehow lost control of his flatbed semi around 9:45 a.m. near mile marker 82 close to the Idarado Mine on U.S. Hwy. 550, causing the truck to roll once over an embankment and onto the switchback below, coming to rest on the driver’s side.
Howell was brought off Red Mountain Pass via the Ouray Ambulance and transferred to an awaiting CareFlight helicopter in Ouray – 12 miles north of the accident scene – which transported him to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. His injuries were not immediately known, but he was in stable condition as of Thursday evening.
One container of methanol had a small leak, prompting Haz-Mat response teams from Cortez, Durango and Grand Junction to be dispatched. The containers had a Level 3 flammability. CSP evacuated the area up to 1,000 feet until it could be cleared.
Hwy. 550 – which had re-opened only hours before the accident on Thursday due to a snowstorm that blew through the region on Sunday night and into Monday that shut down the highway – was closed from the time of the accident until early Thursday evening.