The first winter storm of the season iced over westbound I-84 at the mouth of Weber Canyon in Utah, causing a semi to jackknife and resulting in a 15-vehicle accident which resulted in the death of a truck driver.
“In the midst of our first winter storm, the roads iced over westbound I-84 at approximately milepost 90,” Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Simmons told the Deseret News. A bridge near the area of horseshoe bend iced over and is believed to have contributed to the crash, he said.
“One semi came into it, lost control and jackknifed, basically closing the whole road down. And then every single vehicle, which includes three additional semis and approximately 15 to 20 vehicles, came in at either freeway or below freeway speeds causing a serious traffic mess,” Simmons reported.
A Utah Highway Patrol trooper said he was called out to a car fire at an icy bridge that goes over train tracks. He reportedly then saw a double-tanker carrying butane gas come around a bend and jackknife on the bridge because of the slippery conditions.
A second semi hit the tanker and came to rest on the bridge. The driver of that semi, 28-year-old Mithat Nurko, of San Jose, Calif., stepped out of his truck onto a jersey barrier and fell 50 ft. to his death onto the railroad tracks.
“One semi came into it, lost control and jackknifed, basically closing the whole road down. And then every single vehicle, which includes three additional semis and approximately 15 to 20 vehicles, came in at either freeway or below freeway speeds causing a serious traffic mess,” Simmons said.
The impacts of the semis hitting the double-tanker caused a minor leak in the rear tank. The tank was carrying about 3,800 lbs. of butane, a flammable gas that was at risk of exploding. Hazardous materials crews worked to offload the fuel.
Crews had to extricate the victims, who were in critical condition, from their vehicles before they could be taken to a local hospital for care. Three people suffered life-threatening injuries, including back and spinal injuries.
Eight more people had nonlife-threatening injuries and were taken to Ogden Regional Medical Center and where the medical team had to call for extra staff to handle the sudden influx of patients, Simmons said.