‘I closed my eyes and prayed’: Tooele crash victims describe semi barreling toward them

Nov 3, 2023, 11:10 PM | Updated: Nov 6, 2023, 4:48 pm

TOOELE — Drivers in Tooele are feeling lucky and thankful to be alive after an out-of-control semi-truck barreled through multiple intersections, crashing into at least 33 cars on Friday.

Many of those drivers watched the semi sail straight toward them, with no choice but to brace for impact.

Tony Garner was sitting at the light on Main Street at 1000 North, and could see the semi coming right at him. He didn’t know if he’d survive.

“I closed my eyes and said my prayers. I didn’t think I was going to see my kids, my family,” he said, getting choked up as he spoke.

According to Tooele police, the semi was hauling two trailers full of gravel. The truck first crashed into cars at the intersection of Main and Vine Streets, then continued full steam ahead north, hitting more vehicles at 400 North, before the third crash at 1000 North.

The cause of the semi driver losing control is still unclear, but the working theory is that it was the result of some kind of mechanical or brake failure, according to Colbey Bentley of Tooele PD.

By Saturday afternoon, Bentley said

Tooele police said one person was in critical condition after being airlifted to Salt Lake City, and between all the crashes, 11 people total were hospitalized. The semi-driver was not injured, police said.

Janet Robison was a few cars behind Garner when the semi came ripping through 1000 North.

“It had gone airborne as what I saw. I just saw this big thing coming,” she said.

Robison watched as a pickup truck flipped up into the air, as the semi’s rampage left behind a path of destruction. Like Garner, she also had no choice but to brace.

“The gal in front of me had been hit a couple of times, and I see her spinning towards my car,” Robison said.

Luckily, Robison wasn’t injured. She then watched the semi veer off of Main Street, and into a car dealership.

The semi pummeled through lines of vehicles across the parking lot, ultimately hitting the dealership building and bursting into flames. The building caught on fire.

Garner heard the explosion from the fire, right after he had been hit. He turned around and could see big plumes of black smoke.

Realizing he was okay, Garner got out of his car and ran to other smashed vehicles to help others who were trapped. There was a man who was trapped in a truck that had flipped over.

“He was covered in blood, but he was talking, and he was able to crawl out by himself after we got the windshield busted out for him,” Garner said.

Two Tooele police lieutenants also happened to be driving on Main Street and saw the crash. They were quick to jump out and begin triage.

“There was a police officer there, like an angel appeared,” Garner said. “So I’m like, ‘Thank you. Thank God.'”

In those frantic moments, Garner described how people pulled together to take quick action in the aftermath.

“It’s just chaos. Chaos everywhere,” he said. “It was insane.”

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‘I closed my eyes and prayed’: Tooele crash victims describe semi barreling toward them