UHP locates driver wanted for questioning in I-80 wreck

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Highway Patrol has found a man wanted in connection with a deadly crash on Interstate 80 over the weekend.

A woman watching news coverage of Saturday's crash thought the vague description of the white pickup wanted in connection with it was familiar enough that she confronted her father. He confirmed he was at the scene, and the woman called police, UHP troopers said.

Investigators are now looking at two scenarios that could have caused the accident. "One of our options was that the Dodge Dakota got cut off, and the other thing we're hearing from witnesses was that the Dodge Dakota may have been driving erratically. The older gentleman (driver of the white pickup truck) seems to think the Dodge Dakota came up on him at a very high rate of speed," said Sgt. Jeff Nigbur, spokesman for the Utah Highway Patrol.

The driver of the white pickup truck did come in for questioning. Nigbur would only say the man is in his 60s and from Salt Lake City.

"He basically advised us he was in the area, that he was involved. He saw the dust cloud, saw the explosion, all that stuff," Nigbur said. "He did give us a reason as to why he left the scene."

Nigbur says the man claimed he just kept driving, but the UHP refused to divulge the reason the man gave for not stopping.

"There's never a good reason, I think, when you leave an injury crash or a fatal crash," Nigbur said.

The UHP is looking to witnesses to corroborate the man's statements as well as place his vehicle at the scene. Troopers have taken photos of the truck and now plan to ask witnesses if it is the same truck they saw.

The UHP said Mark Neilsen's Dodge Dakota crossed I-80 near the Salt Lake-Tooele County line and slammed head-on with a Federal Express semi hauling three trailers.

The crash caused an explosion. The FedEx truck was carrying ammunition and, while rounds went off, the entire freeway was shut down.

The man questioned in this case was not placed under arrest.

Troopers expect it may take a couple of weeks to finish the investigation. They will then turn it over to prosecutors in Tooele County, who will review it for possible charges.


Story compiled with contributions from Ben Winslow and Sam Penrod.

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