High speeds lead to terrifying chain-reaction crash in Utah County

Mar 6, 2022, 10:06 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:41 pm

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — A single crash in Utah County spiraled into three Sunday morning, narrowly missing responding firefighters who were trying to help a young child.

Sgt. Chris Bishop with the Utah Highway Patrol said he was called into work because of several crashes on Interstate 15 in the snowy conditions.

He explained that a woman and her fiancé lost control south of the Pleasant Grove Boulevard exit, and their car hit the jersey barrier next to the far-right lane. Her parents happened to also be driving on the freeway and saw it happen.

“Her parents were close behind them, so they stopped to offer assistance. Another car came in, lost control, struck the rear of that minivan that her parents were in,” Bishop recounted.

With two crashes now in the same spot, the Pleasant Grove Fire Department quickly responded and used their ladder truck to block off the area. Capt. Kyle Hardy explained how they also set out cones.

But drivers just weren’t slowing down or moving over.

“We had cars going 70/80 miles an hour, semi-trucks right past us,” he said. “We were getting slushed from the cars that were driving past. It was pretty wild.”

He recounted how one driver ran over the cones and nearly caused a third crash.

As this was going on, the sister of the guy who caused the second crash had shown up to help, and Hardy explained that they were moving the man’s young child into a car seat in the sister’s car.

“We were moving his child out of his car who had already been in one accident into the second vehicle, when the car came up from behind that was traveling at approximately 70 mph when it hit,” he relayed. “And all of us were standing right in the midst of that.”

Hardy pointed out tire tracks in the snow in a photo that UHP shared, showing the car’s path as it sailed right toward their fire truck. The car cleared the truck within inches, sliding into the space between the truck and jersey barrier, hitting the barrier and car on the other side.

Firefighters were standing all around that area at the time.

“The first thing the driver of that vehicle said to me when I walked up to check on him to make sure he was OK after I checked on my crew was, ‘Did I hurt a firefighter? Did I kill a firefighter?’” Hardy recounted. “He didn’t know whether or not he had hit somebody, and that’s how close he actually got to hitting people.”

Hardy added that the driver, who also had a young child in his car, told them he didn’t see their fire truck.

He’s indicated he’s never seen such a close call with his crew.

That third crash sent three people to the hospital, Hardy explained, but with minor injuries.

He and Bishop shared the message, and lesson, that every driver should take from this situation — one that’s so simple, but can save lives.

“When it comes down to it, when the snow flies — you got to slow down,” Bishop urged.

He also shared critical tips for anyone who gets into a crash on the freeway, that can help make their situation safer instead of more dangerous.

First, he said drivers need to get out of the roadway onto a shoulder or offramp if they can make it to one. If they can’t get out of the lanes, then they need to call 911 and stay put in their car.

Do not have family members stop to help on the scene, and do not call them to show up, he indicated. Bishop said there were extra people on the freeway who didn’t need to be there.

And for anyone driving by a crash, he and Hardy pointed out that it’s the law to move over and give first responders extra space. Don’t fly by the scene going too fast for conditions.

“The biggest thing is just slow down,” Hardy said. “Slow down, take your time.”

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High speeds lead to terrifying chain-reaction crash in Utah County