As Utah nears 200th fatal crash of 2023, UHP urges extra caution ahead of Halloween

Oct 22, 2023, 10:40 PM | Updated: Oct 23, 2023, 9:27 am

TOOELE — The Utah Highway Patrol is making plans for what’s expected to be a particularly dangerous weekend on the roads as the state nears its 200th fatal crash of the year ahead of Halloween.

Many of those crashes could have been avoided, UHP indicated, if drivers didn’t get behind the wheel while impaired.

One example over the weekend ended one man’s life and left another man in jail.

UHP Sgt. Brian Peterson said troopers responded to the Knolls area on Interstate 80 in Tooele County Saturday after a car hit a Sprinter van and trailer that were parked on the side of the highway.

Utah is approaching 200 fatal crashes for 2023. (Utah Highway Patrol)

According to court documents, the driver pulled the Sprinter van and trailer over and got out to check the tires. His father was riding in the passenger seat.

Shelby Secrist, 43, is accused of hitting the trailer and then the son, killing him. Troopers believe Secrist was impaired.

“They’re also investigating exactly what was going on with him, but he was arrested for DUI,” Peterson explained. “And that’s a big issue that we’re seeing on Utah roadways. And we have to stop that. It’s not acceptable.”

Court documents state Secrist blew negative for alcohol on the breathalyzer, but troopers discovered drugs and drug paraphernalia in his car, as well as an open container. Troopers reported that his speech and demeanor were sluggish, and his eyes bloodshot and glassy looking with tightly constricted pupils.

It’s not always alcohol

Peterson explained that’s not always alcohol that becomes deadly.

“We’re seeing drug DUIs, marijuana, cocaine, even prescription drugs,” he said. “Anything that’s impairing you, including alcohol, you should not be driving if that is in your system.”

Saturday’s crash, paired with one Sunday morning up near Kimball Junction inched the state closer to the threshold of the 200th fatal crash in Utah in 2023.

The number is now at 199, according to statistics Peterson had from a week ago, paired with additional fatal crashes reported over the past week.

This coming weekend could bring more trouble, being the weekend before Halloween.

“As a department, the Highway Patrol, we’re going to have extra shifts. We’re going to have extra troopers out there,” Peterson said of UHP’s plans. “We’re going to be looking for those impaired drivers and we will take action.”

UHP is making plans now for DUI blitzes, and they urge drivers to start planning now, too.

Peterson does not want someone else making the same mistake Troopers responded to in Tooele County, which led to a father losing his son and a driver facing serious consequences.

“Make the decision beforehand. If you’re drinking, just do not drive, make other plans,” Peterson said. “There’s plenty of Ubers out there. There’s public transportation. Call a friend, whatever you can do.”

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As Utah nears 200th fatal crash of 2023, UHP urges extra caution ahead of Halloween