A Pagosa Springs man was killed in a head-on collision Tuesday on Colorado Highway 84, three miles southeast of Pagosa.
Kirk Zellner, 49, was driving a gray 1993 Dodge pickup north when the front left tire failed, causing the vehicle to swerve abruptly into the southbound lane and collide with a tractor-trailer, according to an accident report by the Colorado State Patrol.
"The impact was pretty horrendous," said Trooper Jonathan Silver in an interview. "It happened so fast that (the other driver) didn't have a chance to even take evasive maneuvers. It was just a matter of timing."
Zellner was ejected and died on scene. It was unknown whether he was wearing a seat belt.
The driver of the tractor trailer, Michael T. Robinson, 36, of Grass Valley, Calif., suffered a leg fracture.
The accident occurred at 11:34 a.m. The highway was closed for five hours while officials removed the wreckage.
Silver said the tire was manufactured in 2000 - making it 9 years old. "The odds of tire failure increase with the age of the tire," he said.
The truck driver saw the tire separate and come apart moments before the collision. The truck was carrying milk and vegetables from Cortez to Taos, N.M. The contents stayed inside the trailer, but the truck jackknifed in the impact.