A plumber died Monday morning and another man was injured during a chain-reaction crash north of downtown Colorado Springs.

The men were standing in the street getting equipment from their van when a gray Nissan Pathfinder slammed into the parked car behind them, crushing the men between their van and the parked car, said Colorado Springs police.

“It just kind of sounded like an explosion,” said Karleen Graham, who was standing outside waiting for the men to work on the pipes in her laundry room. “Everything just went in the air from the impact.

“Then they just laid there.”

One of the men, identified by co-workers as 46-year-old Mark Mechelle died at Penrose Hospital. He worked for Allied Plumbing, 139 Judson St., said Daniel Richardson, the business co-owner.

Richardson said Mechelle had worked for the company for nine months though they had been friends for about eight years.

“He was awesome,” Richardson said. “He had integrity, loyalty, anything you could want in a co-worker and a friend.”

Ken Baker, 44, a co-owner of the company, was taken to the hospital with broken bones, Richardson said. He said Baker was undergoing surgery Monday night and there would know more information about his condition Tuesday.

Police have not released the names of anyone involved.

The SUV was going south on Nevada Avenue just south of Caramillo Street in the right lane when a small black truck pulled out in front of the vehicle. Police said the woman took evasive action in an attempt to avoid crashing into it.

No citations were issued Monday morning and the crash remains under investigation. Police are searching for the driver of the small black truck. Anyone who saw the crash or the small black truck is asked to call police at 444-7000 or, to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 634-7867.

Graham said she called 911 and ran to get blankets for the men. Baker was talking, but Mechelle was not.

“The other guy would just blink at me,” Graham said of Mechelle. “I just tried to keep him warm. I just tried talking to him… I just told him to keep talking to me.”

“They were very kind, very nice,” she said. “They seemed like very good guys.”

Gazette reporter Maria St. Louis-Sanchez contributed to this report.

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