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Driver who landed in tree describes terrifying ordeal

By Devon Dolan | Posted - May 7th, 2013 @ 11:07pm


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LEHI — On May 3, Don Barnes was involved in an accident that sent his car careening off the freeway and into the top of a tree. Tuesday, he described the terrifying moments he experienced during the crash.

"I knew I was coming up on something. I could see it so I put my hands up, I turned my side to what was going to hit and just hoped," Barnes said.

He was driving along I-15 in Utah County, on his way to the hospital to see his sick son, when a tractor-trailer smashed into his Mazda Miata from behind near milepost 281 in Lehi. The car went off the roadway, and Barnes was suddenly airborne.

"I knew I was going 60 miles per hour plus, and my only choice was to go down," he said. "I learned that brakes don't work real well in the air."

Barnes' car hit a tree, tumbled, then flipped onto its roof. When it was all over, he was in pain but not seriously injured.

"My first thought was: Which way is up? Because I was hanging from my seat belt," he said.

Bystanders pulled Barnes out of the car. Four days later, he still has bruising, a concussion and a cut to his ear, but his injuries aren't what concerns him — it's the driver who hit him and is still on the road.

"This could have been much worse, and it shouldn't have happened," Barnes said.

Following the crash, the driver of the tractor-trailer continued on down the road. Utah Highway Patrol troopers are still trying to find out who it was.

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