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Moose on I-80 leads to multiple-car wreck


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SALT LAKE CITY -- A moose standing in the middle of I-80 in Parley's Canyon caused a five-car accident Monday morning.

Witnesses say the moose walked onto the interstate at milepost 134 near Mountain Dell Reservoir around 7 a.m. and stopped in the center lane. Two eastbound cars swerved and avoided hitting it, but a third car -- a black Pontiac -- struck the moose head-on.

Moose on I-80 leads to multiple-car wreck

The moose crushed the windshield, sending glass into the vehicle and cutting the driver. Another car then rear-ended the Pontiac, sending it off to the side of the road.

Laponi Ngatuvai said he tried to avoid the crash in front of him and ended up hitting the moose, as well.

"I look at the moose and it's on top of the black car, and then the moose fell to the side. Then the car in front of me is flying on top of the moose," he said.

Then another crash occurred behind the first crash as a result of drivers following too closely.

Sgt. Nathan Croft of the Utah Highway Patrol said, "We had a secondary crash with two vehicles that were slowed down because of the traffic accident in front of them. One vehicle rear-ended the other vehicle."

One of the drivers involved in the secondary crash was taken to the hospital with neck and back injuries. He is expected to be OK, but his car appears to be badly damaged.

This moose was hit in an area where another moose was hit a few days ago.

While there is always the chance of big game on the roads, wildlife biologists say right now the animals are beginning to migrate.

"This time of year they will start moving back to their summer range," said Craig Clyde with the DWR. "As the snow recedes the animals will start to follow that green grass, green vegetation, and browse up to the mountain."

Moose on I-80 leads to multiple-car wreck

That vegetation often is found along the interstate.

Wildlife managers work with UDOT to try to minimize high-risk areas where animals are frequently hit. For example, in Parley's Canyon, a fence has been installed to prevent vehicle collisions with big game.

"We've actually put a fence along there to try to move those animals down to the overpass at East Canyon and Lamb's Canyon, but there are still areas where they can cross," Clyde said.

UDOT does try to put large yellow warning signs in areas where deer or big game are historically cross, so drivers should watch carefully for those.

If you are on the freeway and it's dark, you won't have much time to react if you see a moose or other wildlife in the road. Highway Patrol troopers say the best thing you can do to avoid hitting wildlife is to slow down.

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Story written by Shara Park and Sam Penrod.

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