The only casualty was the beer – about 42,100 pounds of it.
Last week, a semi-truck driver was westbound on Wolf Creek Pass when the brakes went out just over the top of the pass, said Durango resident Rachel Smith, who was traveling behind the semi.
“I was about a quarter of the way down the pass when I started smelling that smoke,” Smith told The Durango Herald on Monday. “When I got closer, I could see smoke in the road.”
Smith followed behind the semi, and said the truck reached speeds of about 60 to 65 miles per hour. She said the incident occurred Wednesday.
“He was coming up on that first ramp, and I thought, ‘No problem, he’ll hit that,’” Smith said. “But he went right on by it.”
Smith said the driver was able to use the second – and final – runaway truck ramp before the treacherous pass starts to switchback down the mountain.
“He handled that truck like an absolute champ,” she said.
But as the semi made it up the ramp, its load of beer and energy drinks spilled out of the back.
“It was an absolute fountain of beer,” Smith said. “The beer was just absolutely everywhere. It was pretty hilarious.”
Smith said she pulled over to check on the driver, who was not hurt.
Colorado State Patrol Trooper Nate Reid identified the driver as 25-year-old Adam Catic, of Missouri.
CSP estimated the amount of lost beer at 42,100 pounds.
In June, the Colorado Department of Transportation launched the “Beware the Wolf” campaign to warn truck drivers of the risks involved in traveling Wolf Creek Pass, considered one of the worst mountain passes for semi-trucks.
Between 2011 and 2015, there were 49 semi-truck crashes, two of them fatal, CDOT said. Most of those incidents occurred at the hairpin curve near the scenic lookout, just after the final runaway truck ramp.
“Trucks get going too fast and they don’t have control of their brakes, and then pretty soon they can’t control the truck,” Bob Pentek, the CDOT deputy superintendent of maintenance, said at that time.
“Most of the crashes are due to speed ... I just don’t think they realize what they’re in for until they get down there, and then they’re like, ‘I got a problem.’”