It didn’t take long for the Everist Materials cement truck to lean going around the switchback south of Rollinsville, and then give into gravity and roll onto its side, stopping when the weight of the full load dug into the dirt on the shoulder of the oncoming lane.
Nederland Police Officer Darragh O’Nuallain was behind the young driver when the accident occurred about 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, and said that the truck had not been traveling that fast, but it was probably going at a greater speed than the heavy load could handle around the curve.
Officer O’Nuallain helped the driver, who was injured, crawl out of the cab window while the cement truck lay like a beached whale, its heavy drum having dug itself a resting place in the hillside..
The Everist truck and many others were delivering cement to the water treatment construction project in Nederland when the accident happened. Many employees were at the scene to see if their driver was okay and if they could mitigate the situation.
One of the first things they had to do was stop the cement from turning into concrete inside the drum. Not only would it make it more difficult to lift, but once the cement hardened, it would have to be dug out of the drum in chunks, a laborious and damaging process. One of the employees crawled into the drum with sugar and antifreeze, which keeps cement from setting up. When he got out of the drum, he needed to be cleaned up with a fire hose.
Timberline Fire Protection District firefighters were called to the scene for traffic control as all Peak to Peak traffic had to be detoured up Lump Gulch and back to the highway on Gilpin Road. TFPD Chief Chris Jennings led the operations, keeping traffic from backing up. The hardest part was figuring out how to lift the cement filled drum. Cables were pushed under the embedded drum, and the tires were flattened. A large crane lifted the drum while a front end loader pulled the trailer forward.
“It came up nice and slow and then was gently settled down,” said Assistant Timberline Chief Chris Schimanskey. Once the equipment was upright, the tires were reinflated and the truck and drum were hauled to a better spot to be worked on.
The recovery of the cement truck lasted until 8 p.m. but demonstrated the amazing ability of humans to move incredible weight with a crane, a several cables and some basic understanding of physics and chemistry.