Semi Slams Into Garden City Business, Kills Driver
GARDEN CITY, Utah – The owners of a store in Garden City have been picking up the pieces after a semi-truck obliterated their business in a dramatic crash caught on camera.
Investigators said the truck blew through an intersection in the Bear Lake community Wednesday night, and smashed into Pugstones Sporting Goods at 6 South Bear Lake Boulevard.
Ken Cannon said he regularly drives through the intersection on his way to Idaho. He was inside the gas station across the street when the crash happened.
“All of a sudden, I heard this big crash – a big boom. It almost sounded like thunder,” he said. “Everybody in the store kind of flocked out to see what was going on.”
Officials said the semi blew through the intersection of Highway 89 and Highway 30. He tried to make a right turn, but slammed into the building. Police said the truck was going about 55 mph when it went through the intersection.
“The trailer was smoking,” said Chris Kerper, one of the first people on the scene. “We were hollering for any response from anybody inside the cab. We wasn’t receiving any response.”
Kerper and another man pried their way into the cab.
“Trying to get the man not to move (until the medics arrived),” he said.
The driver died from his injuries. A passenger remained in extremely critical condition.
The truck was still stuck in the building Thursday, and may still be there for a few more days.
Business owner Keri Pugmire said the business was damaged beyond repair.
“A complete loss,” she said.
She said the truck lost its load of butter in the building.
“It looks like hurricane damage in the back building. Things are unrecognizable,” she said.
Pugmire and her husband have owned the store 18 years, building it up from a small fishing store.
“It’s heartbreaking to watch because this is our livelihood,” said Pugmire. “It’s a year-round business. I don’t know where we go from here.”
Two witnesses told police they saw the truck driving erratically and speeding down the canyon. Kerper believed, from what he saw, that the brakes on the truck went out.
“I believe the truck driver was doing everything he could to salvage what was taking place,” he said.
Another witness said the truck passed him on the way down the hill. Kerper thinks the driver and passenger, believing the brakes had failed, tried to brace themselves before impact.
“I think that he had his passenger hit the floor board,” said Kerper, before the driver tried to turn the truck and hit the floor board himself.
“This road really, seriously needs to be considered for, if not one, two runaway truck ramps,” he said.
Investigators with the Utah Highway Patrol cannot inspect the truck while it’s in the building. Pugmire said the building would collapse if they removed the truck. The collision shoved the building off of its foundation.
“We’re just counting our blessings, it’s a building,” she said. “We could have had some mass casualties here and we didn’t.”
Pugmire did not expect that they would be able to rebuild this winter. She feared they’ll be doing that next summer instead of helping customers.