Trucker admits he tried to sneak a hazmat load into Eisenhower Tunnel

Colorado authorities say that a truck driver has admitted to trying to take a short cut through a tunnel that is restricted for the hazmat load that he was hauling.

Forty-three year old New York-based truck driver Marat Latypov entered a guilty plea on October 26 to charges of Attempting to Influence a Public Servant (Class 4 Felony) and Reckless Endangerment (Class 3 Misdemeanor), according to a news release from the Colorado Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

The charges are a result of a March 18, 2020, incident during which Latypov tried to drive 28,500 pounds of sodium hydroxide through the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels, where hazmat loads are forbidden.

From the District Attorney’s Office:

Astute Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) officials witnessed the Defendant stop on the shoulder of I-70 westbound, blatantly flip his hazardous materials (HAZMAT) placards over then attempt to drive through the tunnel, evading the State mandated US Hwy 6 Loveland Pass HAZMAT route. Prior to entering the tunnel, the trucker was stopped by CDOT personnel, and CO State Patrol (CSP) Troopers responded to the potentially deadly violation. During CSP’s investigation, the truck driver admitted to flipping his HAZMAT markings, so he could take a short cut through the tunnels—putting potentially hundreds of motorists and CDOT personnel at risk. The trailer had liquid residue in it and was labeled ‘Immediately dangerous to life or health conditions’ on the original bill of lading.

The sodium hydroxide originated in Tennessee and was headed to a location in Parshall, Colorado, for use in the mining industry. The substance is combustible.

After entering the guilty plea to the two charges, Latypov was granted an unsupervised two year jail deferred sentence including approximately $1000 in court fines and costs.

The safe way is the best way,” said Matthew Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Hazardous materials are essential to our economy and way of life. With that, members of the community and public are counting on over the road truck drivers to operate safely and obey state laws,” Chief Packard added. “Your Colorado State Patrol will continue to work closely with CDOT and the trucking industry to make sure that truckers who try to evade hazardous load requirements are taken off the roadway.”