SALT LAKE CITY — A trooper hit by a jeep on the freeway on Christmas Eve says it will be a long time before he's able to get back out on the job. But he's glad his injuries weren't worse.
Trooper Brent Shelby, a K-9 officer providing security at the State Capital, had just set up flares to get drivers to stay away from a crash on I-15 when a jeep lost control and slid right into him.
He had been assisting a fellow officer with traffic.
"I came out to help my brothers that were out there handling crashes, they were inundated with crashes, people were crashing all over the place," Shelby said.
He is one of 16 troopers who have been hit this year while alongside the road.
Shelby's father and brother are also state troopers. His brother was hit earlier this month along the freeway, but was not injured.
"I was struck in my right knee. Threw me into a somersault. Somersaulted two or three times. Landed on my head," Shelby said.
He spent Christmas day in the hospital while his kids opened presents at home. An orthopedic surgeon will look at his torn ligaments in his knee Monday to see how much damaged needs to be repaired. He also has injuries to his back, neck, and a concussion.
He said his recovery could take months, maybe even a year before he's able to return to work.
"People need to comprehend that when there's snow and ice and slush that they can't travel the speed limit," he said. "..I just wish they would slow down."
He said with snow, ice or slush that any car, truck or SUV can lose control just like the Jeep Cherokee that hit him. Four-wheel drive won't prevent a spin out or a slide.
Despite all he has gone through and what he faces in the future, he's still planning on returning to the job.
"Still got a long road to getting better, but we're going to get better and get back on the road and get back to doing what I do," Shelby said.