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UPDATE: Aurora man dies after US 85 crash north of Brighton

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By The Staff

FORT LUPTON -- An Aurora died Saturday, Aug. 24, after a two-car crash about 1 p.m. on U.S. Highway 85 north of Brighton.

The Colorado State Patrol said the victim, Martin Braden, 47, of Aurora, was a tow-truck operator who worked for C&J Auto Service.

CSP Sgt. Mike Baker said the trooper, Scott Rendfrey, was blocking a lane of traffic because of an unrelated crash near U.S. 85 and Weld County Road 6 so the tow-truck driver could clear debris from the road. Baker said a 61-year-old man from Fort Lupton, Dana Beales, was heading south on US 85 when he collided with the rear of the parked patrol car. The trooper sustained serious injuries. After colliding with the squad car, Beal's pickup truck then struck and killed the tow truck operator.

Rendfrey sustained what Baker called "moerate injuries" and was released from the hospital later in the evening.

Baker said Sunday morning that excessive speed and distracted driving are the focus of the patrol's investigation. The speed limit in the area of the crash is 65 mph, and troopers say Beal may have been going at least that fast. Charges against Beal are pending.

Both lanes of US 85 were closed because of the crash. Northbound traffic was allowed through around 3 p.m., and southbound traffic was flowing freely shortly after 6 p.m.

This is the second fatality in the Fort Lupton area this week. A woman died Aug. 21 after she failed to stop for a stop sign and was hit by another vehicle.