Crash spills backhoe
By Emma Breysse, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
August 25, 2012
The driver of a flatbed pickup lost control coming down Teton Pass on Friday, flipped the trailer he was pulling and dumped a backhoe.
It was the second truck-and-trailer crash this month along the same stretch, between the runaway truck ramps near the bottom of the pass on the east side.
Daniel Watson, 32, of Riverton, Wyo., was driving toward Wilson just before 11 a.m. when his brakes failed, Wyoming State Trooper Dave Richelderfer said.
There were dark skid marks on the pavement between the two truck ramps, followed by deep gouges in the shoulder. The marks indicate that Watson went off the road at about the same place as the driver of a semitrailer that wrecked and spilled more than 50 tons of talcum powder all over the area on Aug. 6. Next to the fresh skid marks, several rocks are still white with the powdery remnants of that incident.
Watson told Richelderfer that he lost control when his truck got stuck in neutral and he couldn’t get it back into gear. Between that and malfunctioning brakes, Watson couldn’t slow down enough to maintain control, he said. He was forced to pass a dump truck to avoid rear-ending it, and saw an oncoming car before he could make it to the second runaway truck ramp. While Watson was getting back into the correct lane, the backhoe tipped over, taking the trailer and the truck with it, he said.
At the scene, the backhoe lay on its side several yards from the first gouges in the road. Farther down, the trailer lay flipped over, still attached to the silver pickup. The truck was on its side with the roof crushed and the windows shat-
Watson came out of the crash with only a scraped arm. A Jackson EMT treated him at the scene.
Watson got out of the smashed truck on his own, though it came to rest with the driver’s side on the ground.
Highway Patrol troopers kept traffic on the pass to one lane at a time for much of Friday afternoon while the wreckage was removed.
The wreck took out several feet of guardrail and scattered rocks and gravel across the highway.
Watson declined comment at the scene, saying he had to speak with his supervisor. He works for Snow Creek Energy, which is based in Riverton.