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LINDON — A Utah Highway Patrol trooper was critically injured Monday after he was hit by his own car while standing on I-15 during a three-vehicle crash caused by a driver who fell asleep, investigators said.
Trooper Devin Gurney, 27, who has been with the highway patrol for three years, was taken to Utah Valley Hospital in critical condition, though his injuries are not considered to be life-threatening, according to UHP Sgt. Todd Royce.
"Our greatest concern every day is that our troopers will be safe. I'm so grateful that injuries for all involved in this crash weren't worse," Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires said on Twitter Monday.
Gurney had pulled over another vehicle in the far left emergency lane of traffic about 11 a.m. He was out of his vehicle to conduct the traffic stop when an SUV veered across multiple lanes and slammed into the rear of the trooper's car. The UHP car was pushed forward during the collision and hit Gurney, said Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon.
The SUV driver, a 48-year-old Orem man, veered across the lanes after falling asleep, Cannon said.
When emergency crews arrived, the trooper was lying on the road outside his car, according to Royce.
The car Gurney had pulled over was also hit in the chain-reaction crash. The 28-year-old woman driving that car was taken to a local hospital for neck soreness. A 15-month-old boy in that car was not injured.
The driver of the SUV had three of his children with him, including his 11-year-old daughter who tried to wake him up as he fell asleep and drifted left across several lanes, Cannon said. The girl suffered from stomach soreness due to the crash, while her two brothers, ages 8 and 5, had lacerations. None of their injuries were considered serious.
"They will survive, thank goodness," Royce said. "This could have been a lot worse than it is."
The SUV driver is likely to be cited for either failure to maintain control or improper lane travel, according to Cannon. He said the man was able to tell police that it was warm inside his vehicle, adding to his drowsiness.
Royce pleaded with motorists to stay alert on the road.
"Make sure you're not driving impaired," he said. "Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Make sure you put the distractions away, because it's a dangerous place to be."
The UHP also issued a Facebook post reminding drivers to move away from the shoulder while passing parked trooper vehicles and to slow down in the area.
"We want everyone to be safe on our roads," the agency said.
Four of the southbound lanes on I-15 were shut down near Lindon as crews attended to the crash.
Contributing: Andrew Adams, Ben Lockhart