POLICE

UHP trying to put all the pieces together in deadly sandstorm pile-up

Jul 27, 2021, 2:03 PM
sandstorm pile-up...
Pile-up crash due to a sandstorm in Millard County over the weekend. (Chelsie Rios)
(Chelsie Rios)

KANOSH, Utah– The families of eight people who died as a result of a sandstorm that caused a massive vehicle pile-up on I-15 in Millard County over the weekend are now making funeral plans while Utah Highway Patrol works to figure out how the deadly accident occurred. 

Investigators are trying to put together the pieces leading up to the pile-up crash. Right now, authorities believe there was one crash blocking the roadway, then several other crashes happened behind it. But the worst accident sparked when a semi-truck stopped, prompting many vehicles to rear-end the semi.  

Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Cameron Roden told the Dave and Dujanovic Show they don’t have the entire puzzle put together yet.

 

“We are still looking into what people did that played a part in this crash,” said UHP Sgt Cameron Roden on KSL’s Dave and Dujanovic Show. “With low visibility like that, and what people experienced there, was a very very dangerous situation. Not being able to see what’s in front of you, any hazards that may be there, like a crash in front of you, and are driving right into it.”

Roden says troopers think there were some drivers who may have kept driving or exited the freeway, so there may be even more vehicles involved.

He asked those drivers or passengers to contact the Nephi office of the Highway Patrol.

“With the size and scope of that scene, officers still are looking and trying to put all the pieces together as far as what actually happened first,” added Roden. “And we are not even sure we have all the vehicles who were involved in the crash.”

Families of victims sort through grief 

While troopers attempt to untangle the crash, the families of the crash victims are working through their heartbreak.

“My initial reaction was just shock. That it can just happen so fast, and it’s so final,” Shannon Mortensen, who lost five relatives traveling together in one vehicle, told KSL-TV. “A big sandstorm kind of just swept across I-15.”

Mortensen recounted the family was driving home from a family reunion at Bear Lake. The victims include her brother and his son, and another brother’s wife and two children.

“My brother, Race, is the most entertaining person to be around  always silly, always teasing you, always keeping things fun,” Mortensen acknowledged. “And Kortni is just the best mom that I know, just great with her kids and always a joy to be around. She’s never upset or in a bad mood, just always lifts everybody up around her.”

Another child from the SUV was reportedly released from the hospital.

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UHP trying to put all the pieces together in deadly sandstorm pile-up