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MAGNA — The Utah Highway Patrol is investigating whether a motorist driving with a blown tire caused an accident that killed two people Friday and left the driver in critical condition.
About 10:30 a.m., witnesses told investigators they saw a passenger vehicle traveling east on state Route 201 near 12000 West at what appeared to be freeway speed. But the vehicle was traveling with a blown tire that was shredding to the point where the left front tire was nearly on its rim, said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Blaine Robbins.
"But she continued on that tire, is what it looks like," he said.
For an unknown reason, the driver apparently lost control of her car or swerved into oncoming traffic. She continued traveling into oncoming traffic as the westbound and eastbound lanes became divided by a cement barricade. After traveling about 100 yards on the wrong side of the road past the start or the barricade, the car clipped a gray pickup truck, Robbins said. The truck was able to pull off to the side of the road with little damage and no injuries.
"Looks like the Fiesta was right behind that one and took the brunt of it," Robbins said.
A man and woman in their 30s in the Fiesta were pronounced dead at the scene. It took rescue crews 15 to 20 minutes to extricate the driver of the wrong-way vehicle before sending her by medical helicopter to a local hospital.
Names of the victims were not immediately available pending notification of family members.
We don't believe alcohol was a factor, we don't believe it was a medical problem or anything like that was a factor. It's kind of a mystery right now.
–Sgt. Blaine Robbins, UHP
Robbins said what investigators couldn't figure out Friday was why the driver traveled so far down the wrong side of the road without pulling over or just stopping.
"We don't believe alcohol was a factor, we don't believe it was a medical problem or anything like that was a factor. It's kind of a mystery right now. There's a lot to be looked at, a lot to be investigated, because we really don't know at this time," he said. "At this point there's a lot of unknowns."
Several other motorists stopped to lend assistance to the victims immediately after the accident.
Robbins said as a safety reminder to the public, it's not a good idea to travel on a blown tire.
"If you blow a tire, get yourself pulled over and get it fixed, we don't recommend driving on it," he said.
Contributing: Mike Anderson