WELD COUNTY - This was supposed to be routine. A state trooper was helping two truck operators clean up a one car crash on U.S. 85 just north of Brighton. Just before they were about to leave, a pick up truck rams into them.
"Certainly in an incident when somebody is killed in a crash like this, completely unacceptable," Sgt. Mike Baker, Colorado State Patrol, said. "We're sick of it."
Baker says the tow truck and the trooper's cruiser were parked in the southbound left lane of U.S. 85 after an earlier crash. The trooper was in his car, parked behind the tow truck, when a Ford F-250 hit the trooper's vehicle. Troopers say the truck was traveling around 65 mph.
"This is at least half a mile," Baker said.
Investigators say drivers had a far, clear distance to see that that one of the lanes was closed.
"His amber directional lights were activated indicating that traffic should move from left to right," Baker said.
The collision sent the parked cruiser careening about 40 feet off to the right of the road. The truck then struck the tow truck operator outside sweeping up. The Martin Braden, 47, of Aurora died on scene.
The trooper's injuries were moderate but don't appear to be life threatening.
"I could see he had some gashes all over him. I saw his uniform torn," Larry Botnick, witness said.
Botnick was driving to Greeley with his family to drop his son off at the University of Northern Colorado.
"My wife is a nurse and so she was like stop, stop, stop," Botnick said.
His wife joined a group of other nurses trying to administer CPR to the tow truck operator. But, it was too late.
"I saw a guy. He looked, you know, the poor guy just looked very pale," Botnick said. "He looked really sad."
Botnick says a lot of passers-by stopped to assist. He said that part was inspiring.
"What I saw was like all these people just helping," Botnick said. "They were helping the officer. Someone was holding a blanket up."
Sgt. Mike Baker says the Colorado State Patrol is frustrated with crashes like this. Drivers should be more aware, he said.
"We try to tell people it's a safety issue for us. We work with [tow operators] every day. They're our partners. They're our friends, and we're tired of it," Sgt. Baker said. "It's not acceptable for these crashes to happen anymore. People should know better than this."
The driver of the Ford F-250 was identified as 61-year-old Dana Beales of Fort Lupton. Troopers say Beales suffered minor injuries. He was detained by the Colorado State Patrol. Drugs or alcohol are not considered factors in the crash.
The victim was from the C and J tow truck company out of Fort Lupton. They are not releasing any statements other than to say they are very distraught.
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