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Proposed deer tunnel could prevent accidents

By Sam Penrod | Posted - Mar 20th, 2014 @ 10:01pm

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GUNNISON, Sanpete County — Deer running across a two-lane highway is something that worries a lot of people who have to drive when it is dark. However, it is a challenge for the Utah Department of Transportation to keep deer and elk off the highways in rural areas.

The deaths of two people because of a deer collision has their families asking for safety improvements.

Early on Nov. 18, a deer carcass in the road caused two vehicles to collide in Gunnison, Sanpete County. Kay Matthews died in the crash and Brady Simons died three days later. The accident raised concern from residents and family and friends of the victims about the dangers of deer on the highway.

“We are meeting with county officials and hoping to create some teamwork here in this area that will help us come up with a working solution in those areas,” said Kevin Kitchen, UDOT spokesman.

Farmers' fields run along U.S. 89 and attract deer, especially in Sanpete County. With an estimated 400 deer hit by cars along that highway every year, some residents believe a tunnel could help in the worst locations.

Deer tunnels — allowing deer to cross under the road and stay out of the way of drivers — have proved successful in other rural areas but they are expensive.

“We do have signs and fences and mitigation measures in place for wildlife,” Kitchen said.

Scott Lund said he misses his young ranch hand, Simons.

“Brady, his whole life he wanted to work on a ranch,” Lund said. “It’s terrible there’s just a lot of deer even in the same place the accident happened, my wife and I were coming home and we almost hit one just shortly after it happened to Brady.”


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