FILLMORE, Utah (ABC4) – On their way to California, a West Valley City family was traveling on Interstate 15 when they were suddenly encapsulated in the Millard County sandstorm that resulted in a series of crashes and multiple fatalities.
“We were just driving, acting excited, we were going on vacation, and then all of a sudden, we saw the sandstorm,” Krystal Richardson tells ABC4.
As the cloud of dust swept across the freeway, Richardson said they couldn’t see anything.
“You could not see a foot in front of you,” she explains.
In a video from the Richardson family, you can hear someone say “that car just disappeared! Oh my gosh, slow down.”
Richardson is then heard saying to her daughter, who was driving, “Slow down, we’re not going to be able to see, slow way down.”
After slowing down, her daughter pulled over on the side of the road. Moments later, she said their vehicle was hit from behind.
“They did get out, but their car was mangled, like it was pretty bad,” Richardson says of the driver’s vehicle who hit them. “Their airbags were out, their car was bad.”
Utah Highway Patrol officials say 22 vehicles were involved in the string of crashes Sunday afternoon.
“Lots of cars, gone, mangled. Like you couldn’t tell they were vehicles. It was horrible. Like, cars in diesels, a vehicle right next to us like literally inside a diesel,” Richardson reflected.
And she recounts the scene that’s still fresh in her mind.
“We were right next to all these cars that they couldn’t possibly have made it through, and I just sat there and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, like how are we alive?’ I don’t even know how it happened” she says. “Like, we were right next to a horrible, horrific scene and it’s so heartbreaking.”
Troopers said the series of crashes claimed the lives of eight people. Richardson and her family tells ABC4 News they’re grateful to be alive, but is heartbroken for those who lost their lives.
“I’m thankful we’re alive, but literally I feel, I’m just shaking because of the thought of the families that aren’t so lucky,” she says.
Following the crash, Richardson and her family were put up in a hotel by the city of Fillmore. As of Monday afternoon, the family was still trying to get a rental car and figure out what’s next.
“This town has been so amazing,” she expresses.
Although their plans have dramatically changed, Richardson said it’s incomparable to those who lost their lives.
“I feel so bad for everyone and their families,” she says. “It’s just a sad, sad day.”
For the first responders on-scene, Richardson said she is grateful for their efforts and support.
“All the other people who came on the scene are amazing. They’ve helped so much…I do have to give a shout-out to every EMT and law enforcement.”