Dolores man helps rescue crash victim

Semi-truck rolls on Highway 145

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Sunday morning Pat Riley was in the right place at the right time.

A semi truck, carrying frozen green beans crashed and he was the first on the scene. The big rig ran off the roadway on Highway 145 near mile marker 32 and rolled onto its right side after rolling down an embankment. Riley, a Dolores resident, said no one was around when he came upon the truck and location at 5:30 a.m. He said at that time of the morning and being a Sunday, there was almost no traffic on the highway.

The Colorado State Patrol reported the semi may have jackknifed after running off the road.

After seeing the truck on its side, Riley rushed down the embankment and tried to make contact with the driver. He immediately became concerned when no one was responding to his questions.

“I could see someone was in the truck, but he was not answering back,” he said.

Riley struggled to get one of the doors open in order to check on the driver, mentioning the semi had flipped over and came to rest on its right side.

After finally getting the door open, Riley saw the driver, Francisco Uribe from Salt Lake City, squatting down in the cab of the truck.

One of Riley’s biggest concerns was that fuel was running into the cab of the truck. He called “911” on his cell phone, then tossed the phone to a passerby so he could tend to the driver.

He said it appeared the first two people who showed up after him did not know the area and may have been hunters.

Riley, 56, said he checked the eyes of Uribe first before checking vitals and then the eyes once again.

Getting him out of the truck was a challenge because the driver was much heavier than Riley, who estimated the man outweighed him by 50 pounds. He had to lift Uribe close to eight feet to exit the cab.

Riley does not know how he managed to get Uribe out of the cab, but thinks his strength increased because of how scared he was at the time.

“When you are scared like that you can do anything,” he said.

He said he tried to speak Spanish to Uribe, the truck driver’s native language, but added the man was incoherent.

Riley also said that he simply went into rescue mode and was not too worried about his safety and does not consider his actions to be that special.

“Someone was going to find him and get him out of there, but no one was on the road at 6 a.m. on a Sunday,” he said.

The Colorado State Patrol said Highway 145 was shut down on Sunday while all the frozen green beans that were scattered along the highway from the accident were cleaned up.

Uribe was transported to Southwest Memorial Hospital for minor injuries where he was treated and released.

Trooper Tonja Cowan said Uribe was traveling south on Highway 145 when for some unknown reason his tires went off the road before driving over one of the metal posts on the side of the road.

After driving over the metal post, Cowan said the truck went down the embankment.

Cowan said neither alcohol nor speed were considered reasons for the accident.