At least 50 cars crash on Denver overpass, the season’s first big pileup


Winter won’t officially be here for another six weeks. That didn’t stop two to five inches of snow from falling in Denver, Colorado overnight as temps dropped into the mid-twenties Friday morning, the first substantial fall of the year in the mile-high city. Traffic didn’t do so well with the suddenly slick roads, Denver police tweeting that 100 motorists got into a multi-car pileup on 6th Avenue between Klamath Street and Federal Boulevard. Worse, the mess shut down the heavily trafficked thoroughfare in both directions. The Weather Channel called it a 100-car pileup, but we’re not sure how many vehicles were involved beyond “a lot.” A thread on a Denver subreddit posted early Friday morning warned locals to “Avoid 6 eastbound,” leading with a photo (above) containing about 50 cars that we could count.

The clog was large enough for police to declare a “crash alert.” That’s when there aren’t enough personnel to attend to every wrecked car, so anyone who wasn’t hurt and could get out safely was instructed to not call for assistance. It appears everything happened on the eastbound side, with EMTS, police, rescue vehicles, and suddenly stranded motorists parked up on the westbound side. A commenter on a news story said Rapid Transit Denver buses hung out to give stranded motorists a warm place to wait in while cars were towed or extracted.

This stretch of 6th Avenue is an overpass, and as the warn, freestanding roads freeze first. A representative from AAA in Colorado said “this situation was, in many ways, unavoidable” because of the black ice conditions, two high-speed streets leading into the 6th Avenue overpass, and people who “ignore the gradual slowing” that occurs as traffic merges onto 6th heading downtown. 

Thankfully, Denver police also tweeted that none of the motorists injured in the pileup suffered life-threatening injuries. It took until about midday Friday to get the road cleared, tow trucks pulling a mess of vehicles to the parking lost at Empower Field where the Denver Broncos play. The police later tweeted, “Last night’s storm wasn’t the worst we’ve seen but it did manage to make roads across the metro area very slick. Slow down.”

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