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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Woman's condition improves day after wrong-way freeway crash; driver facing criminal charges

By Ashley Fredde, KSL.com | Updated - Apr. 20, 2021 at 6:15 p.m. | Posted - Apr. 19, 2021 at 10:55 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — A woman who sustained life-threatening injuries after a wrong-way driver hit two vehicles in the eastbound lanes of I-215 Monday night is improving a day after the crash, according to law enforcement officers.

The 19-year-old woman's vehicle was one of two hit head-on by a white truck that entered the freeway near the I-215 eastbound and I-15 southbound interchange going the wrong way.

On Tuesday, the Utah Highway Patrol said the woman's condition had improved and she was expected to survive her injuries. Troopers said her passenger was still receiving treatment for his injuries, which were serious but not life-threatening.

Troopers said the man driving the wrong-way truck was fleeing after he allegedly hit a parked Unified Police Department vehicle at the Unified police substation in Cottonwood Heights.

After hitting the two vehicles on the freeway, the man — later identified by troopers as 35-year-old Justin Wayne Robertson — fled on foot but was placed into custody a short time later, according to a probable cause statement. The document said that the man told police he had seen the injured people.

Robertson initially refused treatment but was transported to the hospital where he advised officers that he had used meth 10 to 30 minutes prior to the crash, the court document says. Officers also stated in the document that Robertson had a small bag of meth in his front pocket.

Robertson was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, operating a vehicle without insurance, failure to register or expired registration of a vehicle, driving on a suspended or revoked license, two counts of DUI with serious bodily injury by negligent operation, failure to remain at the scene of an accident (damage only), two counts of failure to remain at the scene of an accident (involving injury), failure to stop (death/injury), possession of a controlled substance, and failure to remain at the scene of an accident (serious injury).

The highway patrol recently released data showing that wrong-way crashes in Utah are up 30%, with an estimated 90% of them occurring due to impairment of the driver.

Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Wade Breuer said there may have also been two passengers in the truck along with Robertson.

According to Breuer, a man in a Jeep that was hit in the crash was transported Monday to the hospital with minor to serious injuries and the two occupants in the other car that was struck were also transported. The driver of the passenger vehicle was flown by helicopter in critical condition Monday and the passenger was transported with serious injuries.

On Tuesday, police said the man who was a passenger in the Jeep had suffered minor injuries but had been treated and released.

According to the Utah Department of Transportation's traffic website, the exit was closed following the crash and drivers were told to seek an alternate route. The exit was reopened at about 9:50 p.m. Monday.

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