Utah Highway Patrol trooper recalls training that led him to ram wrong way driver
FARMINGTON – A Utah Highway Patrol trooper is recovering from a minor injuries after he rammed a wrong driver to stop him in Davis County, last night. The trooper looked at the dash cam video from his patrol cruiser Tuesday and talked about the training that enabled him to put his life on the line to stop that motorist.
“The one thing that was going through my head is, we’ve had a lot of fatalities with wrong way drivers,” said UHP Trooper Jon Stanford, a 14-year police veteran with more than a year at the UHP.
Around 10:45, troopers had responded for a wrong way driver headed north on SR 89 in the southbound lanes on the ramp of Legacy Highway.
Trooper Stanford had seconds to react as he got in position ahead of the wrong way driver. He was traveling at 115 mph, as the headlights of the wrong way driver neared at highway speeds.
“It really caught me by surprise,” he said. “And, it scared me a little bit.”
He did not want either of them, or any other drivers, to get killed in a collision.
“I’ve got to stop really quick, and figure out how to stop him because I didn’t want him passing me,” said Stanford. “There was no way he was going to get past me.”
The trooper decelerated quickly, and rammed the wrong way car as it passed making it spin to a stop. Stanford’s cruiser slammed into the concrete median.
Stanford came away with an injured knee, but expects to be back on the job soon.
Brad Blackner, 37, was jailed on suspicion of DUI, drug possession, reckless driving and driving on a suspended license.
Trooper Jon Stanford credits specific training for enabling him to stop the dangerous driver. “We’ve done a lot of training,” he said. “We’re training really hard.”
The training includes working on better maneuvers to specifically stop those wrong way drivers. The UHP has seen a dramatic rise in wrong way drivers over the last three years: one or two a week in Davis County alone. So, they developed special training.
“What we want to do is make contact with their back panel and from that point, hopefully spin their car out,” said Stanford.
Last night, he had to hit that rear panel while driving straight at the car.
“It might be a little scary, and we might have to go head-on with them for a little bit. But, I think the training helps with that,” he said. “We’ve got good training. I think that was the difference there: being able to talk about it, make a plan, and when you see it, when you get into that situation the training kind of kicks it.”
State troopers tell KSL the vast majority of wrong way drivers are impaired. But, two people died on Legacy Highway last year when an elderly driver who was confused got on the highway going the wrong way.
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