Car with 7 teens careens 180 feet down steep ravine near Monte Cristo
HUNTSVILLE, Utah – Rescue teams spent several hours pulling seven teenagers out of an embankment on Highway 39 near the Monte Cristo area in Weber County. Most of them were ejected from the vehicle, including those who were wearing seat belts.
The crash happened just after midnight Thursday.
Investigators from the Weber County Sheriff’s Office were still looking into the incident, but said speed was indeed a factor.
“It’s 40 miles an hour for good reason,” said Sgt. Mark Horton. “Our initial investigation is putting the speed of this car at 70 miles an hour when he left the roadway.”
The teenagers were from the Ogden area, between the ages of 14 and 17. Officials said they decided to take a late night drive up State Highway 39, toward the Monte Cristo area near the Weber and Rich County line. The scenic highway winds through the mountains of Weber and Rich Counties, and climbs about 3,000 feet elevation. Just after midnight, they turned around and headed back to Ogden.
The car went off the road near mile marker 43 and then careened about 180 feet down a steep ravine before coming to rest in the trees. Officials said it was a remote area with very little traffic, and spotty cell service.
“One of the occupants in the vehicle was able to crawl up to the roadway and called 911 to get assistance coming,” Sgt. Horton said.
Four medical helicopters were called in – three from Ogden and one from Park City.
“It required LifeFlight, AirMed, AirCare, Weber Fire and a heavy rescue unit. They actually had to use pulley systems to get the patients up to the roadway,” Sgt. Horton said.
All seven were taken to Ogden hospitals. Two of the teens were later taken to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. One of the victims was in extremely critical condition Thursday afternoon. The other six had various injuries, ranging from minor to critical.
Rescuers spent all night treating and transporting the four males and three females.
They were finally able to pull the car out using a towing cable just after sunrise.
Investigators said a 16-year old was driving, and two of the teens were actually riding in the trunk of the car. Four of the teens were wearing their seatbelts, but the violent nature of the crash still ejected them.
Sgt. Horton said had it not been for finding a weak cell signal, those teens may not have been discovered for a long time. They were very lucky.
“Our message is the speed limits are speed limits for a good reason. And it’s always a good idea to let family know where you’re going to be in case something like this comes in, because we’ll have a good idea where they’re at,” Horton said.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Weber County Sheriff’s Office had not released the names of the teens. The investigation was ongoing and no charges have been filed against the driver.
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