Motorist dies after running red light on Bangerter

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WEST JORDAN -- An apparent decision to run a red light turned into a deadly mistake for a motorist on Bangerter Highway Thursday morning.

The motorist, identified as 31-year-old Phillip Nielsen of West Jordan, died when his SUV collided with a semi-truck at the intersection of Bangerter Highway and 9000 South around 4:30 a.m.

West Jordan police say it does not appear that alcohol or drugs played a factor in this deadly crash. They say right now it looks like it was simply an error made by the driver of the SUV.

Investigators say the semi-truck was headed southbound on Bangerter Highway, traveling about 60 miles per hour, when Nielsen's black Jeep crossed into the intersection at the same time.

Lt. Bob Shober of the West Jordan Police Department said, "The black Jeep Cherokee ran the red light, and they impacted in the middle of 90th, and here we are at about 9100."

The semi dragged the Jeep about 150 yards south down Bangerter Highway. When the vehicles finally came to a stop, the semi's trailer was stretched across six lanes of traffic and the Jeep was mangled.

"I don't know if you can see in there, but the driver's tire is up inside the compartment of the Jeep Cherokee," Shober said.

When police officers arrived on scene, they say Nielsen had already succumbed to his injuries. "Nobody was working on him. They couldn't even get to him," Shober said.

Police shut down Bangerter Highway from 9000 South to 9800 South during the morning's commute while emergency crews worked to remove Nielsen from the Jeep. Once they did, the investigation began into whether he ran the red light because he was distracted.

"I don't know if there is any evidence of any cell phone or texting," Shober said, "but whatever you're doing in the car, make sure you're paying attention."

The speed limit on Bangerter Highway in that area is 60 miles per hour. West Jordan police say they do have trouble with people speeding in the area, even running red lights because they treat Bangerter Highway like an interstate.


Story compiled with contributions from Shara Park and Andrew Adams.

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