Video appears to show a semitrailer speeding down the shoulder of eastbound Interstate 70 in Lakewood, Colorado before a massive crash and fire Thursday afternoon, according to KTLA sister station KDVR in Denver.
Four people died after a semi-truck hauling lumber plowed into vehicles on a crowded section of Interstate 70 near Denver, causing a fire so intense that it melted the roadway and metal off of cars, authorities said Friday.
Authorities had to wait until daylight to confirm the death toll from Thursday afternoon’s 28-vehicle pileup because of the devastation caused by the fire.
Lakewood police spokesman John Romero described it as a chain reaction of crashes and explosions from ruptured gas tanks. “It was crash, crash, crash and explosion, explosion, explosion,” he said.
Six people were taken to hospitals with injuries. Their conditions were unclear on Friday.
“There is just a bunch of debris from this crash that took place. The carnage was significant, just unbelievable,” another department spokesman, Ty Countryman, said.
The Lakewood Police Department said the crash began when a semitrailer traveling at a high rate of speed on the eastbound side of the highway collided with other vehicles, starting a chain reaction and fire.
The video, from YouTuber Burger Planet,appears to show the speeding semi passing stopped vehicles. The camera is then turned to show a large smoke plume rising from where I-70 goes under Denver West Colorado Mills Parkway.
The driver of the truck suspected of causing the crash, Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos of Houston, has been arrested on suspicion of vehicular homicide, police said.
Officials say 23-year-old, who sustained minor injuries, was headed down a hill when he slammed into traffic slowed because of a previous crash ahead of him on I-70. There is no indication the crash was intentional and that drugs or alcohol were a factor but investigators were looking at whether his truck’s brakes were working, Countryman said.
Pam Russell, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County district attorney’s office, said Aguilera is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Saturday to be advised of his rights. A judge also may consider bond during that initial advisement hearing. There was no information on whether he is represented by an attorney.
Russell said formal charges have not been filed by prosecutors.