Man talks about Fruit Heights mudslide that caught him and his wife

Apr 9, 2023, 10:13 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2023, 2:54 pm

FRUIT HEIGHTS, Utah — A day after a mudslide overtook him and his wife in their backyard, Frank Hunt said he remained concerned about what else could flow down from the hillside and mountain above his home this spring.

“This water just started building up there from all this snow,” Hunt said. “So yeah, that worries me a little bit.”

Hunt shared his experience of what unfolded Saturday during an interview with KSL TV on Sunday.

“There was a little stream of water coming down — probably an inch or two deep and 6 inches wide — and it was moving soil but not much,” Hunt recalled. “It was going right into my chicken coup, and I was worried about the chickens, so I took my shovel, and I went out there, and I was going to divert the water that was coming down around my chicken coup, and I had started doing that when all of a sudden there was a crash.”

Hunt had little time to react.

“My neighbor yells at me and says, ‘It’s coming down, get out!’” he said. “So I turn and start to run. My wife tries to move, and it caught us — came up behind me and just pushed me into that coup, and the coup went because of the mudslide, and the fence behind it went, and we went about another 10 feet before we ended.”

Hunt said he blacked out for roughly 30 seconds, and when he came to, his injured right leg was under him awkwardly, and his left leg was in front of him and pinned by a rail from a fence. His wife was also on the ground with an injury to her leg.

According to Hunt, neighbors scrambled over to help as they could until first responders arrived following a 911 call.

“They’re trying to cut branches away because I’m pinned down with sagebrush,” Hunt recalled. “They were able to push enough to push my foot over and bring it around the rail, and now I was free, so they started pulling me back.”

Hunt said helping him was not an easy task with deep mud all around him.

“The cop who was pulling me out — he sank to his knees,” he laughed. “I don’t think (there was) anything I could have done. I mean, it ore out an apricot tree that had a trunk on it that was about 2-and-a-half feet in diameter — took it right out!”

His barn was also destroyed.

“These are beams — or telephone pole-sized beams — holding that barn up, and it went down like it was a tinker toy,” Hunt explained.

He expressed concerns about the water that remained on the hillside above him in an area that is apparently under development and acknowledged the ongoing potential for problems there and across northern Utah following a winter of record snow.

“You know, there’s a lot of water up there,” Hunt said. “I don’t think they anticipated it — and of course, who does — but I don’t think they were prepared for it.”

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Man talks about Fruit Heights mudslide that caught him and his wife