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Champion mountain biker, truck driver killed in I-70 crash

(Utah Highway Patrol)


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CISCO, Grand County — Two people, including a well-known figure in the mountain biking community, were killed in a crash that involved two semitrailers and a van early Wednesday.

Stephen G. Tilford, 57, of Topeka, Kansas, and Stanley Williams, 70, of Grand Junction, Colorado, were killed.

Tilford was the first U.S. mountain biking national champion in 1983 and a member of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.

The incident happened about 12:30 a.m. when a semitrailer on I-70 drifted off the right shoulder, overcorrected while getting back on the road and tipped onto its side, blocking two of the eastbound lanes, said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce.

The area where the crash occurred is very remote and was very dark at that time, he said.

A Mercedes sprinter van came up on the tipped over semitrailer, but the driver could not see the crash before it was too late, Royce said. The van, driven by Tilford, went through the trailer that was on its side, he said. Vincent Davis was a passenger.

"Steve was driving, and I was in the passenger seat dozing when something woke me up. I looked up and thought we were running into a wall," Davis told the website Cycling News. "We hit the side of the truck and went through the trailer and out the top. It was only carrying boxes, so we were hurt but OK."

Tilford and Davis got out of their car to inspect the damage from the crash. But while they were on the road, a second semitrailer that also did not see the first semitrailer, crashed through the same tipped over trailer, hit the van, and then hit and killed Tilford, Royce said.

"I walked up the road to a pickup truck that had stopped and was sitting inside making calls because it was cold out, and then I heard screaming — another semi had plowed into the van, and Steve was back there," Davis told Cycling News.

The second semitrailer jackknifed, causing its trailer to smash into the cab, killing Williams, the driver of the second semitrailer, Royce said.

Davis was treated at a hospital in Grand Junction and was later released. He wrote on Tilford's blog that he has "a fractured sternum that hurts, otherwise just sore." The driver of the first semitrailer was not injured. As of Wednesday, no charges had been filed.

The second semitrailer was hauling mail, which was all collected, Royce said. The freeway was closed in that area until just before 5 a.m.

Tilford's last entry on his blog was on Tuesday.

"Heading East. Kind of later than I had thought, but that is a good thing. Little short of time. I’m going through Las Vegas to drop off some stuff to a friend. … Then to St. George, Utah. Vincent has some work there, so he was trying to catch up."

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Pat Reavy

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