Troopers urge caution after early Memorial Day weekend mishap

May 26, 2023, 10:16 PM | Updated: 10:19 pm

UTAH COUNTY—Troopers were urging people to be cautious on Utah’s roads ahead of a busy Memorial Day travel weekend following an early mishap in American Fork Canyon that left a teenager seriously injured.

Sgt. Colton Freckleton said a group of five teenagers was headed back from Tibble Fork Reservoir Friday morning when the drive down the canyon suddenly went south.

“Four of those teenagers were standing on the side of a Jeep Wrangler that had running boards on the side and a rack on top,” Freckleton told KSL. “While traveling southbound on state Route 144 one of the roof racks was damaged and broke and one of the teenagers lost their grip and a female fell to the ground, creating a serious injury to her head.”

Freckleton said the 16-year-old girl’s injuries were believed to be non-life-threatening.

According to investigators, the 16-year-old female driver was traveling roughly 45 miles per hour in a 30-mile-per-hour zone at the time of the accident.

“We shouldn’t be seeing people on the side of vehicles or in the beds of trucks,” Freckleton said. “It’s just goofiness and it’s unsafe.”

Freckleton said Utah was entering its ‘100 deadliest days’ between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend and it was important to be safe no matter where people travel for the holiday.

The 100 days between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day see nearly double the number of deaths on Utah roads compared to any other part of the year.

Freckleton said troopers were planning to work extra shifts to focus on DUI, speed, and seatbelt enforcement as well as watching for distracted driving.

“We need to be safe,” Freckleton said.

Educators and safety advocates are taking a new approach called “Back to Basics” for highway safety this year. It’s a reminder to Utah’s newest drivers of the importance of driving without distractions. It also targets drivers who have been behind the wheel for decades. No matter how much experience Utah drivers have, UDOT warns against forgetting basic safety steps.

In American Fork Canyon, regular Jason Grijalva expected an onslaught of visitors this weekend and he also hoped for safety.

“It’s going to be a madhouse,” Grijalva said. “We want everybody to play it safe. We want everybody to have fun and make memories and just enjoy their time in the mountains.”

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Troopers urge caution after early Memorial Day weekend mishap