100 Deadliest Days ends as six more die on Utah roads
Editorial note: This story has been edited from its original version to clarify some confusion around the identity of one of the drivers involved in the crashes. Police learned after arrested one person that another person may in fact have been driving. The story now reflects that change.
The 100 Deadliest Days on Utah roads came to a finish, claiming the lives of six motorists. Utah Highway Patrol reported four people died this Labor Day weekend on Utah’s highways. Two others died on city streets.
Deadly Labor Day weekend on Utah roads
It started Friday evening when a 40-year-old man died in Ogden. Police said he was involved in a head-on collision near 1100 North and Washington Boulevard just before 6:30 pm.
A statement from Ogden police said the man was driving south in a Ford F-150 when he crossed the centerline and hit a bigger pickup truck head-on. He died at the scene. A 70-year old woman was driving the Ford F-350. She was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
On Saturday morning, a woman died after the car she was in rolled on Bangerter Highway near 13400 South in Riverton. Don Hutson of the Riverton Police Department said the 23-year old was a passenger in the back seat when the crash occurred about 4 am.
Police initially identified the driver as Cody Ratushniak. They alleged Ratushniak and another male passenger were drinking in a bar before picking up the female victim.
At some point after Ratushniak’s arrest, the other passenger came forward to police and told them he was the driver, not Ratushniak. However, police are awaiting test results and other evidence to determine concretely who was driving the car.
The 23-year old woman, in the back seat, was not wearing her seat belt while the vehicle drove north on Bangerter at 75 miles an hour, or 15 miles over the limit. Police say the car drifted into southbound turn lanes at 13400 South, overcorrected and hit the center median. The vehicle then struck another median, a traffic pole, a light pole and went through a chain-link fence coming to rest in a field on the west side of the highway.
Crashes claim lives across the state
Also on Saturday, a motorcyclist lost his life in Logan Canyon after investigators say he was driving too fast and lost control. The UHP said Bradley L. Goertzen was driving north on U.S. 89 when he failed to make a turn, laid his motorcycle down into oncoming traffic and was struck by a truck hauling a cattle trailer. Goertzen was pronounced dead on the scene.
On Sunday night in San Juan County, a teenager died in a crash about 11:15 p.m. on SR-163 at milepost 18, which is just north of Forrest Gump Hill. The Department of Public Safety identified the driver as Titmus Jesse from Bountiful, Utah.
The Department of Public Safety stated the vehicle was heading north and for an unknown reason left the road. It’s not known how fast the 18-year-old driver was going, but he was not wearing a seat belt, rolled the car and was ejected. UHP said emergency crews performed life-saving measures on the teen, but he died at the scene.
A husband and wife lost their lives near Zion National Park on Monday. A statement from UHP Sgt. Cameron Roden said the couple were traveling west in a Toyota on SR-9 near the town of Rockville. The driver drifted to the right, overcorrected left but traveled into oncoming eastbound traffic. A Ford Econoline van hit the Toyota.
A medical helicopter was called to the scene and crews gave lifesaving measures but the couple were pronounced dead on the scene. The husband was not wearing a seat belt, but the wife was. The driver and passenger of the van were taken by ambulance to a local hospital in good condition.
The UHP said officers continue to see excessive speed and aggression on roads. The Zero Fatalities’ website shows a total of 93-people died between Memorial Day and Labor Day on Utah roads in 2021. And 207 people have died since Jan. 1, 2021, which is 26 more than the same time period last year.
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