SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Highway Patrol officials urged motorists to drive more cautiously following a weekend in which seven people died in five different crashes on Utah highways.
“It was a tough weekend for us,” said Utah Highway Patrol Col. Michael Rapich, who addressed the media Tuesday morning. “It’s probably the worst weekend we’ve had during this busy 100 Deadliest Days of Summer that we’re involved in right now.”
On Friday, two people were killed in separate crashes in Iron County. Daniel W. Haynie, 55, of Parowan, was killed in a rollover crash on I-15 in Enoch at about 4 a.m. Later that day, 55-year-old Kimberly Roundy, of Enoch, was killed in a crash on I-15 in Cedar City. Another person was critically injured in the crash.
On Saturday, three people were killed and another was critically injured in a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 191 in San Juan County. Kenneth Harding, 75, and Frances Harding, 73, of Arizona, as well as 68-year-old Patricia Storm, of North Dakota, were killed in the crash.
There were two other fatal crashes on Sunday. Fifty-year-old Norman Lange, of Wyoming, died after the ATV he was riding collided with a pickup truck on U.S. Highway 40 just north of Strawberry Reservoir. Rapich said troopers also assisted Navajo Nation authorities in investigating a fatal crash on U.S. 191. Details about that crash weren’t immediately provided.
Impairment is suspected in one of the crashes, and individuals weren’t wearing their seat belts in two of the crashes, Rapich said. He added the biggest factor was people being “inattentive.”
As UHP’s 100 Deadliest Days are winding down, with four weekends left before Labor Day. Rapich warned each weekend is like a holiday weekend with drivers taking advantage of summer trips. Therefore, troopers are expecting an increase in traffic during August.
With that, they are hoping motorists will drive safely to finish off what had been a safer 100 Deadliest Days compared to other years. There have been 65 deaths on Utah highways from May 25 through July 30 this year, according to UHP stats. In 2018, there were 102 deaths on Utah highways during the span between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends — a 17% increase from the year before.
“If you’re going to be out there, first off, start off right. Put your seat belt on. Fifty percent of people who lose their lives in vehicle crashes aren’t wearing a seat belt, even though only about 13% choose (to not wear their seat belt). That’s way too big of a disparity in statistics,” he said.
Rapich also urged drivers to slow down and be mindful of other drivers and construction around them. He added motorists should be alert and drive defensively, and should never drive drowsy or play with distracting devices such as phones while driving.
“Make sure all of your focus is on the road,” he said. “When it comes to attentive driving, really small mistakes can have really significant consequences, and we absolutely saw that this past weekend.”