A semi truck hauling a 40-foot trailer shut down the road to the ghost town of Crystal, after becoming stuck at the base of Daniel’s Hill, east of Marble, on Thursday, Aug. 17.
Pictures of the truck trickled out on social media, with comments mostly blaming the driver for his reliance on GPS. But, there is a lot more to this story, including:
- The Western Express driver became stuck Thursday night during a rainstorm;
- Several Marble residents and businesses helped the unfortunate driver;
- The driver came into Marble from the Paonia side of Highway 133;
- He called Western Express offices to report his GPS seemed to not be working right;
- His boss told him to follow the GPS anyway;
- The driver, 29, lives in Las Vegas;
- It took two wreckers and a crane to finally get the truck pointed in the right direction, and the driver parked it for a time on Main Street on the north side of Slow Groovin’ BBQ.
The following account was put together after this reporter interviewed several Marble residents, beginning with Marble Hub employee Brook-Lynn Lowery.
“It was weird to see a truck that big in Marble … most are box trucks,” she told The Sopris Sun. After the driver parked the rig, “People driving on Main Street could barely get through. It was really narrow,” she added.
Next was Sarah Harrison, who works at Beaver Lake Lodge. The truck driver spent one night at the lodge and told Harrison quite a bit. Apparently, he was headed to Denver with a load of clothes for T.J. Maxx. It was relayed that Western Express wanted to avoid ongoing traffic congestion in Glenwood Springs, so rerouted the driver over Schofield Pass — a narrow four-wheel-drive road that connects Crystal to Crested Butte, and generally doesn’t open until late summer.
Supposedly, the driver was trying to back into a small turn out so he could turn around, but his truck started sliding and the trailer’s rear tire rolled off of the road. The driver was scared, Harrison reported. “It was dark and raining, and he had to use his phone’s flashlight to see that the rear tire was off the road.”
The driver spent the night in his cab. When the sun came up he started walking to town, about a mile away, when a Marble resident found him and took him to the Marble Hub. From there, the driver was able to call his family. After his Hub stop, another Marble resident showed up and drove him around town.
Town of Marble employee Brad Kline also met the stranded driver. Kline is the guy in the yellow vest positioned at the Crystal River bridge in the summer to direct vehicles hauling ATVs where to park. “He has a good brain on his shoulders. Two years ago a truck got stuck up there … that guy was really backwoods,” Kline said. Regarding the Western Express driver, “When he left, he said the people here are great,” stated Kline.
This was the second semi to get stuck on, or on the approach, to Daniel’s Hill this summer. There could have been more big rigs up there, were it not for Kline and others warning drivers to turn around when they see them in the daylight.
There are at least two signs in the Beaver Lake area warning drivers a four-wheel-drive road is ahead and to turn around if necessary. Kline said Gunnison County has discussed putting a warning sign at the intersection of Highway 133 and Gunnison County Road 3, which leads to town. So far, that sign hasn’t appeared.