California doctor, daughter severely injured while stopping to help at Tooele County crash

Nov 13, 2023, 10:10 PM | Updated: Nov 14, 2023, 1:02 pm

SALT LAKE CITY –– Family members say two loved ones are facing a long road to recovery after a chain reaction crash in Tooele County left them severely injured.

88-year-old Dr. Ronald Cornelsen, of Huntington Beach, Calif., and his daughter Heather and her husband were planning to overnight in Salt Lake City on a trip to Iowa when they stopped to help at the scene of a crash on I-80 near milepost 81 in Tooele County

Two people seriously injured in multi-vehicle crash in Tooele County

“The urge to help others and make sure everyone was safe overtook any doubt that they had,” said another of Cornelsen’s daughters, Megan Kiklas, in an interview with KSL TV on Monday. “As they were approaching the car, they just heard the loudest bang and a semi truck hit one of the vehicles involved in the accident and that rolled over my dad. It threw my sister over the side railing.”

Kiklas said her sister took the brunt of the collision to her face.

“They had to remove her eye because of the trauma, she has no mandible,” Kiklas said. “They just did surgery last night to repair that and put in a plate.”

Cornelsen, meanwhile also suffered extensive injuries.

“My dad sustained a broken tibia/fibia open fracture,” Kiklas explained. “He has three cracks in his pelvis, two broken, separated ribs, and then head trauma as well as acute kidney injuries.”


Facing significant costs to transport Cornelsen back to California and provide care over the next several months, family members created a GoFundMe account.

They said the longtime pediatrician has always gone out of his way to help others.

“His mission in life is to serve others and to take care of others,” Kiklas said. “He would still help in a heartbeat.”

Family members said that was the message he hoped to convey to others through the story — to do whatever they could to make a difference for others.

“He’s so thankful that he survived, that everyone was safe,” Kiklas said. “(He is) just making sure we are all doing our best to help others, but in a very safe way.”

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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California doctor, daughter severely injured while stopping to help at Tooele County crash