Rockfall incidents ‘very rare’ but more common in winter and spring

Local News

PINEVIEW RESERVOIR (ABC4 News) – A Layton man was critically injured when a falling rock smashed into his pickup truck Saturday in Ogden River Canyon. Now the accident is bringing attention to rockfall dangers on Utah highways.

According to a Go Fund Me page Randy and Linda Mower of Layton were returning from a morning of skiing on Saturday when a 150 lb. rock suddenly came crashing through their windshield. 

The rock barely missed Linda but knocked Randy unconscious causing him to crash into the side of the mountain along Highway 158 near the Pineview Reservoir Dam. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition and now he’s in the intensive care unit with a collapsed lung, internal bleeding and numerous broken bones. 

John Gleason of the Utah Department of Transportation says this type of tragedy is rare.

“It’s not uncommon that you would see rocks coming off of a slope like that,” Gleason said. “But it’s very rare that somebody would actually be injured and it’s terrible that something like this would happen.”

In 2006, Utah State University engineers prepared a report for UDOT rating rockfall hazards in the state. The red dots on a map represent the most dangerous stretches of highway. Gleason says it depends on the height and slope of the hillside – and the weather.

“There’s more of this type of activity in the winter and spring because of the freeze/thaw cycle when you have some of the extreme temperatures, cold/hot,” Gleason said. “It can really cause some of the rocks to kinda come loose.”

UDOT does install barriers and netting along some highways but can’t really predict what will come down when. Huntsville resident Dan Phillips knows that because his SUV was struck by two bowling ball sized rocks last March on Highway 39.

“When you see rocks on the road consistently it causes you to think,” Phillips told ABC4 News. “When I drive this road I’m kind of constantly looking up to see if anything’s shifting or whatnot but just be aware that it is an issue and if you have to come into Ogden Valley maybe go past Snowbasin instead cause it’s a safer route.”

Gleason tells me that UDOT’s Geo-Technical team will soon be heading out to evaluate some of the state’s most dangerous spots.

For more information on the Go Fund Me campaign for Randy Mower, go to:  https://www.gofundme.com/randy-mower

Click here to support Randy’s Recovery organized by Jocelyn Mower

www.gofundme.com

On December 15, Randy was driving home from skiing with his wife, Lisa, when a boulder fell from the mountainside. The boulder shattered the windshield and barely missed Lisa, but struck Randy on his right side. Randy was knocked unconscious on impact, and the truck crashed into the mountain. Lis…

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