Couple suffers burns after off-road vehicle catches fire

Jul 5, 2018, 6:55 PM | Updated: 9:11 pm

CEDAR FORT, Utah – Two people suffered severe burns after the off-road vehicle they were driving burst into flames during a Fourth of July ride in Utah County.

Trever Atkinson, age 18, and Summer Hardwick, age 19, were both recovering from 2nd- and 3rd-degree burns after the off-road vehicle they were riding suddenly caught fire.

The South Jordan couple was riding west of Utah Lake, just south of Flat Top Mountain.

Trevor Atkinson, age 18, and Summer Hardwick, age 19, suffered significant burns after their off-road vehicle caught fire during an Independence Day ride.

“It was probably 15 minutes from when we left the truck to when it exploded,” Atkinson explained. “It blew up from out from under us, and the wind was going toward the cab of the razor, and the flames just came around us.”

Atkinson said he’s owned the Polaris RZR for about six months, and driven it for hundreds of miles without any problems. He said he recently had it repaired after a manufacturer recall regarding heat around the tailpipe.

I’m just extremely grateful to be alive. Extremely grateful that he’s alive. It was really an emotional day.”

Hardwick said the way her boyfriend reacted likely made a big difference in making sure things didn’t turn out worse.

“I heard a loud ‘pop,’ and I heard him screaming at me to get out of the Razor,” Hardwick said. “I was really grateful for him. He took a lot of the flames, trying to get me unbuckled.”

Atkinson didn’t realize his own injuries

With the vehicle still burning, Atkinson said he went to get help.

“I started running down the highway,” Atkinson said. “I probably ran 200 feet, just waving my arms, just trying to get someone to stop.”

Trevor Atkinson and Summer Hardwick said the Polaris RZR off-road vehicle exploded underneath them. (Photo courtesy Utah County Sheriff’s Office.)

All the while, he said he never thought to check on himself.

“Someone stopped and told me, ‘you need to sit down,'” Atkinson said. “I kind of looked down there and saw how burned I was.”

“I saw all of his skin that was burned,” Hardwick added. “It was pretty traumatizing.”

Atkinson said well over a dozen people stopped to help, including a nurse, who has also been by to check on them at the hospital. He said some people helped put out the flames before firefighters arrived.

Both said they were dumbfounded that the vehicle would apparently just explode. Atkinson said he intends to reach out to Polaris about the incident.

“I do feel grateful that we made it out alive,” Atkinson said. “But at the same time, it kind of makes me angry that it’s something we even had to worry about.”

“I’m just extremely grateful to be alive,” Hardwick said. “Extremely grateful that he’s alive. It was really an emotional day.”

Hardwick said she could go home within the next day or two. Atkinson suffered the most injuries, with burns along the left side of his body. He expected to be in the University Hospital Burn Unit for at least 21 days, likely longer.

Both families have set up a combined GoFundMe page to help pay for medical expenses.

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Couple suffers burns after off-road vehicle catches fire