Truck Drivers Stranded In Avalanche Closure Gets Pizza Delivery To I-70

by Jana Ritter

An avalanche obstructed a busy Colorado mountain highway Tuesday, trapping two commercial truck drivers and forcing a road closure that left several other truckers and motorists stranded for hours. Fortunately nobody was hurt and it was actually a dedicated pizza delivery man that made the headlines instead.


The avalanche occurred early Tuesday morning and dumped approximately 15 feet of snow on to Interstate 70 at Vail Pass, which is a key route to the popular Vail ski resort. According to Mike Lewis, deputy director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, no one was injured in the avalanche but it swept down a tangle of trees and rocks in its path, trapping two commercial trucks and partially burying one. Authorities say the semi truck was carrying mail and fortunately the driver was not hurt. However, the highway was forced to close as CDOT crews cleared the area and worked to mitigate more avalanches across Colorado's high country. Truck drivers making deliveries were delayed for hours along with locals and travelers on their way to the area ski resorts. Several famished truckers decided to give it a shot and see if they could actually get pizzas delivered right to their cab doors. Sure enough, they found a local restaurant willing to make the delivery through the difficult terrain. In fact, Marc Keleske, owner of Chicago Pizza in Vail, wanted to make sure of it, so he drove his Subaru up through the mountains and made the deliveries himself, wearing shorts no less.


"These guys have been sitting there for anywhere from 10 to 14 hours in their trucks, just sitting there overnight," Marc says. "They’re usually very hungry and they’re very excited to see us when we pull up, that’s for sure."  Marc's wife, Vicki, explains this actually isn’t the first time they’ve taken orders from stranded drivers and they’re willing to go the extra mile(s) for anyone who gets stuck on the road in these conditions. While many restaurants stick to their policy of not delivering anywhere without an actual address, Marc just gets a description of the truck and his determination eventually allows him to track down the customer amongst the rows of vehicles lined along the road.

"They find us, they call us, and ask if we can deliver up there, and we're always a little iffy on it, because if the road is closed it's tough to get up there," he adds. But on Tuesday, Marc was more than determined and after making his first successful delivery, he ending up driving nearly 70 miles back and forth, delivering pizzas to several other stranded drivers with the same idea.

By mid-afternoon, CDOT crews had completed the job of clearing the snow and re-opened the road. Other portions of I-70 and mountain passes were periodically shut down through Tuesday so crews could trigger avalanches to prevent surprise slides. On Wednesday, CDOT officials said that avalanches are still a threat to the area and crews are continuing to prioritize control work around the state. 

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