The Colorado State Patrol has charged the driver of an RTD bus with careless driving resulting in injury following a four-vehicle crash along Arapahoe Road on Monday morning.
Trooper Nate Reid said Richard Castle, 73, was issued a summons to court as the driver of the bus that rear-ended a stopped commercial van, sandwiching it against a semi flatbed and causing the van to burst into flames.
Reid said that about 9:50 a.m., the semi and the van, traveling together westbound on Arapahoe Road, turned on hazard lights before stopping to turn right into the driveway of Lightning Eliminators and Consultants in the 6600 block, just east of Boulder.
He said the RTD bus was traveling behind, though it is unclear how close. He said there is about a half mile of visibility from the crest of the hill east of the crash site and that the ongoing investigation will reveal what happened to prevent Castle from braking.
"I don't know exactly what was going on with the driver of the RTD bus," Reid said.
Reid said the van immediately burst into flames while the driver was still inside. He said the male driver — identified as 25-year-old Gabriel Arguello — was extricated and transported to Boulder Community Health's Foothills Hospital, and then airlifted to a University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora with serious injuries.
A nurse at the hospital said Arguello was in stable condition Monday afternoon, but would not reveal more about his injuries.
The side of the van advertised General Maintenance & Repairs Inc. Calls to the business were unsuccessful.
One of three bus passengers was transported to the foothills hospital and the other two were released on scene, he said. Castle was also transported to the hospital with minor to moderate injuries, he said.
Reid said a passenger in a Chevrolet Malibu that struck the back of the bus was transported with minor to moderate injuries to Boulder Community Health's Foothills Hospital. He did not know her name.
Maria Hernandez, 40, was the driver of the Malibu. She sustained no injuries.
The driver of the semi — Scott Ehler, 46 — had gotten out of his cab after he stopped, Reid said, and was not injured.
"Obviously you should never stop in the middle of a traffic lane, but there are times when you have to to get into a business," he said.
Reid said he did not know where anybody was from, but the information might be available Tuesday morning.
Arapahoe Road was reopened in both directions at about 3:30 p.m. after it was immediately closed from 63rd Street to 75th Street while the vehicular crime unit investigated.
Witnesses of the crash said when the van caught fire, multiple people from surrounding businesses ran up with fire extinguishers.
Two men at the scene, Dakota Heller and David Wolf, said they prayed with the driver until he was rescued from the car. They said they were driving about a quarter mile behind the bus when they saw a plume of smoke and ran to help.
Heller said he didn't see the crumpled van at first, initially thinking the bus had hit the flatbed trailer.
"It's unrecognizable as a van," he said.
But then they saw the arm of the driver reaching out through the window and went to help, offering him encouragement until emergency workers arrived and pulled him out.
"It was surreal," Heller said. "The best I could do was pray with him."
Staff writer Amy Bounds contributed to this report.