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Utah Highway Patrol

2 of the 5 teens seriously injured in car crash in Richfield released from hospital

By Garna Mejia, KSL TV | Posted - Dec. 19, 2019 at 8:18 a.m.



RICHFIELD – Two of the five teens involved in Tuesday’s lunchtime car crash in Richfield have been released from the hospital, while three others remain in Salt Lake Valley hospitals.

“It’s amazing they all survived from it,” said Travis Ames, Harley Speelsman’s uncle, about the accident involving his 16 year-old niece Harley Speelman and 4 other 16-year-old teens. Richfield Mayor David Ogden says there were 3 boys and two girls involved in the accident.

Ames says Harley underwent surgery for 5 hours at Utah Valley Hospital. “She broke both of her femurs, so they put rods in her femurs. Her knee, they had to operate on her knee and her lower leg- her tibia fibia. She has some fractured discs in her back and also in her neck, and her liver was bleeding,” said Ames.

Speelman’s mom, Dottie Zabriskie, declined an on-camera interview but explained that Speelman won’t be able to walk for 3 months because she won’t be able to put weight on her right leg. They’re hoping she’ll be released from the hospital in about a week.

Speelman was partially ejected from a silver Jeep Cherokee when it lost control Tuesday during lunchtime. She was one of the passengers in the backseat, according to Ames.

“I look over and all I see is the jeep come up, hit this berm right here, go in the air and then I lost it,” said Tanner Nielsen who witnessed the accident from a distance.

Tanner and his friends rushed to help the teens and called 9-1-1.

“When I opened the door, all I could really hear was ‘help me,’” Nielsen shared.

Richfield Police say the Jeep landed deep in the ravine and wasn’t visible from the road and the teens were fortunate someone witnessed the accident.

“The only thing that kept me calm was if I wasn’t here what would’ve happened? How long they would’ve been sitting here if me and my friends weren’t here to help them,” Nielsen said.

The accident happened on the CC dirt road, just west of Richfield. The road is less than a mile from Richfield High School and is a popular hang out spot for students. According to deputies from the Utah Highway Patrol, the eastbound inexperienced driver was speeding on their way down the road when they lost control. Richfield Police say the driver began to overcorrect, causing them to go off of the right side of the road and into the ravine.

Four of the teens were flown to Salt Lake Valley hospitals, one was taken to the hospital in Richfield.


This is a learning lesson to kids everywhere. One little turn, one little second can change your life.

–Tanner Nielsen, witness


Richfield Mayor David Ogden says two of the teens were released from the hospital on Wednesday, including the one that was hospitalized in Richfield.

“It came with quite a shock to have this happen in our community and having four helicopters come and haul these kids off, you just almost expect that someone is going to have something more tragic happen. Luckily, they are out of surgery and we understand they are doing okay,” Ogden said.

“With the carnage that we’ve seen here, there was nothing short of a miracle that these kids survived this accident,” said school resource officer Erin Pallesen of the Richfield Police Department.

Pallesen says only two of the teens were wearing a seatbelt.

“The seatbelts were the saving grace here because the two kids that wore a seatbelt were able to be discharged from the hospital early this morning,” Palleson said as he explained that a special announcement was made at the high school Wednesday to remind students about the importance of wearing a seatbelt and driving safely.

While Nielsen says he’s praying for his friends’ recovery, he hopes others, himself included, will learn a lesson from the tragic accident.

“This is a learning lesson to kids everywhere. One little turn, one little second can change your life,” Nielsen said.

A GoFundMe account has been created for the Harley Speelman’s medical expenses.

*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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