SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah News) – Monday’s snowstorm created numerous problems on Northern Utah roads. As of Monday afternoon, the Utah Highway Patrol reported 177 crashes, including three involving UHP patrol cars.
One of the troopers assisting at an accident scene on Interstate 15 in Provo never saw it coming. His dashboard camera recorded the moment when a vehicle slammed into the back of his cruiser.
Luckily that trooper was uninjured – just like two other patrolmen whose cars were hit Monday but one had an extremely close call.
“One of the troopers had to jump out of the way towards the wall and narrowly missed being struck himself,” Utah Highway Patrol Colonel Michael Rapich said. “He jumped out of the way and literally missed being struck by inches.”
The cruisers themselves were not that lucky.
“Two of those cars were totaled which means we are going to have to replace those cars,” Col. Rapich said. “The other car wasn’t damaged as badly. One of those vehicles was actually struck multiple times and these are cases where we had really good traffic control set up. We had flare patterns set up. We had multiple patrol cars set up and people just simply didn’t slow down. They came in there too fast.”
The side of the interstate is a dangerous place to be. Experts say if you slide or spin, try to get your car to the next exit and get off the freeway.
“If you hit a slick spot there’s a good chance that somebody else is going to hit that same slick spot,” Utah Department of Transportation Public Information Officer John Gleason said. “You don’t want to be there when that happens but also those slideoffs and minor fender benders can really snarl traffic and if our plows are stuck in that traffic then they can’t do their job.”
Col. Rapich says he’s frustrated having to tell people over and over to slow down in winter conditions.
“The number one responsibility I have is for 475 UHP troopers statewide is to make sure they get home every night safe,” Col. Rapich said. “This is very important to me. Our overall goal is to make sure everybody out there gets home safe tonight. We need your help to do that. You have got to slow down.”
The accident total was especially high considering that Monday was an observed holiday with schools closed and many people off of work.