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Truck spills off U.S. Highway 550 near Coal Bank Pass

Crash occurred about 2 a.m. near base of Coal Bank Pass
A truck crashed off U.S. Highway 550 at mile post 51, north of Purgatory Resort, about 2 a.m. Wednesday. (Reuben M. Schafir/Durango Herald)

U.S. Highway 550 closed at 8 a.m. Thursday between Cascade Village and Cascade Creek north of Purgatory Resort to allow a tow truck to extricate a flatbed tractor trailer that drove off the road and slid down an embankment around 2 a.m. Wednesday.

The highway reopened at 1:45 p.m.

Colorado State Patrol received a call at 2:13 a.m. Wednesday, a spokesman said. The truck’s driver had “minor injuries” but was not transported for further medical care.

CSP Capt. Angela DeGuelle said speed likely played a role in the crash. The driver is suspected of coming down the south side of Coal Bank Pass where he entered the sharp hairpin turn at Cascade Creek too fast, causing pallets to shift.

“That’s why there’s speed limits,” DeGuelle said.

The truck was transporting a fine brown powder called “drilling mud” in bags loaded on pallets. The vehicle was heading from Utah to Texas. The shifting load caused the truck to overturn.

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, the truck remained on the embankment on the north side of the highway. A section of concrete barriers had been pushed out of the way and replaced with temporary barricades.

Drilling mud remained strewed across the highway and the embankment. The substance is not toxic, DeGuelle said.

This is not the first time trucks have careened off the sharp turn. In 2021, a truck carrying onions crashed in almost the exact same location.


A truck crashed off U.S. Highway 550 at mile post 51, north of Purgatory Resort, around 2 a.m. Wednesday. (Reuben M. Schafir/Durango Herald)

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