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4 children, 4 adults killed in Millard County sandstorm crash

A sandstorm led to multiple crashes on I-15 near Kanosh involving 22 vehicles on Sunday. The Utah Highway Patrol said eight people died, including some children, and at least 10 more were hospitalized following Sunday's incident. (Utah Highway Patrol)


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KANOSH, Millard County — Four children were among the eight killed in Sunday's series of crashes in Millard County after an unusual dust storm limited visibility for drivers.

Five of the eight people who died were in the same vehicle, two were in another vehicle, and one fatality was from a third vehicle, the Utah Highway Patrol said Monday. Four of the people who were killed were adults and four were under age 15.

The five people in the same vehicle were identified Monday as Riggins Sawyer, 6; Franki Sawyer, 2; Kortni Sawyer, 30, all residents of St. George; Race Sawyer, 37, and his son Ryder Sawyer, 12, both residents of Lehi. Race Sawyer was also identified as Kortni Sawyer's brother-in-law, according to the UHP.

The two who died in a second vehicle were identified as Richard Lorenzon, 51, and Maricela Lorenzon, 47, both of Salt Lake City. The couple leaves behind four daughters ages 7, 9, 21 and 26, according to a GoFundMe* set up for the family.

The person killed in the third vehicle was identified as Cameron Valentine, 15, of Yuma, Arizona. A GoFundMe* was also set up for the Valentine family.

Ten others were taken to hospitals with injuries, at least three of whom were reported to be in critical condition.

Race Sawyer's sister Shannon Mortenson spoke with KSL Monday about the family members she lost, saying she is "grateful for the time we did get to spend with them."

"My brother Race is the most entertaining person to be around, always silly, always teasing you, always keeping things fun. And Kortni is the best mom that I know — just great with her kids and always a joy to be around," she said.

Mortenson remembered 2-year-old Frankie as "cherished in our family." Ryder was remembered by his aunt as a performer and a "captivating person." She added that Riggins had just started playing "all sorts of sports that he could and really excelling with it."

Kortni Sawyer's 3-year-old son, Blue, was also involved in the crash but survived. He was taken to Primary Children's Hospital where he was treated and later released, according to the GoFundMe* account set up for the family.

A total of 22 vehicles were involved in the pileup after high winds caused a sandstorm or dust storm that impaired visibility on the roadway, troopers said. The crash occurred in the southbound lanes between Fillmore and Kanosh in Millard County around 4:30 p.m.

Troopers said Monday they believe minor crashes initially blocked the roadway. While trying to stop for those crashes, a semitrailer is believed to have rear-ended a pickup truck.

"The most significant crashes happened behind the semi with two vehicles becoming wedged underneath the back of the trailer. They appear to have been hit from behind by another pickup. Another vehicle appears to have sideswiped the semitrailer, as well," troopers said.

Troopers from Richfield and Beaver responded to help after the crash. Multiple ambulances and medical helicopters also responded to the scene.

"We want to express our deep appreciation for the Millard County Sheriff's Office and the volunteer fire and EMS crews from Delta and Fillmore who provided medical response. This has been a heartbreaking incident for everyone who responded to this incident. The Utah Highway Patrol relies on local medical responders in these types of incident," UHP said in a statement.

"We're stunned and saddened by the horrific accidents in Millard County," Gov. Spencer Cox said in a tweet late Sunday night. "We fervently pray for the loved ones of those who perished and for those fighting for their lives."

"This was a tragic and horrible crash. While we mourn those who lost their lives in this incident I am amazed with the response of our troopers, sheriff's office, EMS, fire and the incredible volunteers from communities across Millard County," UHP Colonel Michael Rapich tweeted Monday.

Contributing: Tania Dean, KSL-TV; Ashley Fredde, KSL.com

*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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