‘Everything happened so fast:’ Survivor of Parleys Canyon wrong-way crash urges caution

Dec 14, 2023, 10:03 PM | Updated: Dec 15, 2023, 6:04 am

SALT LAKE CITY — One of the drivers injured in a deadly Wednesday night wrong-way crash in Parleys Canyon urged others to be ready for whatever is just down the road.

“There are circumstances out of your control,” said Graeson Coughenour, who was recovering Thursday from a broken collarbone and other injuries.

Before 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Utah Highway Patrol said dispatchers received reports of a gray pickup headed east in the westbound lanes of Interstate 80 near 1300 East.

According to UHP, that truck subsequently crashed into another truck and an SUV near milepost 130 in Parleys Canyon.

“Everything happened so fast,” Coughenour said. “There was a large puff of white smoke, and I couldn’t see.”

(Aubrey Shafer, KSL TV) (Aubrey Shafer, KSL TV) (Utah Highway Patrol) (Aubrey Shafer, KSL TV)

Coughenour said it was very dark in the area where the collision happened.

“It took me a second to realize it was a car coming the wrong way,” he said. “I saw a car right in front of me get into a collision, and the white pickup truck was sent across two lanes of traffic.”

Troopers said the wrong-way driver was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other truck driver had to be extricated and was taken to the hospital with significant injuries.

“I spent all night in the ER,” Coughenour said. “I have a broken collarbone, and I missed a final.”

Coughenour hoped as other drivers headed out for the holiday season, they would watch the road in front of them extra closely.

“All you can really do is be prepared to the best of your ability and try to handle things as they come,” he said.

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‘Everything happened so fast:’ Survivor of Parleys Canyon wrong-way crash urges caution