DENVER – An Adams County deputy “bravely put himself and his vehicle in harm’s way” to avoid other drivers being hit by a wrong-way driver on the eastbound lanes of I-70 overnight, deputies said Tuesday morning.
Just after 11 p.m. Monday, the Colorado State Patrol received multiple calls about a driver of a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee who was going west in the eastbound lanes of I-70 near mile marker 328.
Deputies with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office then headed to the area to shut down eastbound traffic at mile marker 310 to avoid a head-on collision with other incoming vehicles, before the Adams County deputy was hit while inside his patrol car to prevent more than a dozen other cars from getting struck by the wrong-way driver, deputies said in a news release Tuesday.
After hitting the deputy, the CSP said the driver – identified as 83-year-old Joseph Najar from Colorado Springs – then struck a 2007 Volvo semi after the initial impact sent both the wrong-way driver and the deputy 140 feet into the front of the semi.
“Thankfully neither the deputy, the driver, nor anyone else on the interstate suffered any major injuries,” Adams County deputies said Tuesday. Both the driver and deputy were treated by medical as a precaution, they said.
The CSP said it did not appear drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash. There’s also no indication of how the wrong-way driver came to be on the wrong side of the interstate.
“We are thankful that the only casualties were the vehicles involved. There is no doubt that without the deputy’s quick action and bravery several vehicles would have been struck at high speeds and lives would have been lost,” deputies said.
The wrong-way driver was cited for careless and wrong-way driving.
The eastbound lanes of I-70 were back open shortly after 3 a.m.