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Investigators probe Big Cottonwood wreck that injured 2


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SALT LAKE COUNTY -- A father and his 13-year-old son remain hospitalized following an accident in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Two sports cars were driving up the canyon when one driver lost control and hit another vehicle. Authorities are trying to determine if the cars were racing.

At about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, a Lotus and a Porsche were headed up the canyon. The driver of the Lotus lost control and slammed into a BMW SUV traveling in the opposite direction.

"The people in that Lotus are definitely lucky to be alive," said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office Lt. Don Hutson.

Deputies say two people in the BMW were OK. The 46-year-old driver of the Lotus and his passenger, his 13-year-old son, were in critical condition. Their car took the majority of the impact from the crash, trapping them inside.

Investigators probe Big Cottonwood wreck that injured 2

About two hours after the crash, the white Porsche came back to the scene. Investigators questioned the driver, who had a 4-year-old child with him at the time of the crash.

"He did say he was in proximity to the actual crash but denied any involvement in racing, or anything like that," Hutson said.

Investigators said the drivers did not know each other.

"It appears that it was two high-performance vehicles that may have been on the road at the same time and perhaps there was a bit of cat and mouse occurring," Hutson said.

Investigators probe Big Cottonwood wreck that injured 2

Deputies say it's unclear why the driver of the Porsche didn't stop once the accident occurred. They say he was in front of the Lotus and may not have seen the crash. "I am not sure if he believed there was a crash or maybe he believed there was help already there. I just don't know," Hutson said.

The driver of the Porsche said the two men were not racing. But investigators say that speed was a factor in the accident.

Hutson says the "cat and mouse" driving activity is something that occurs quite often.

"These impromptu activities where people just pull up and for some reason they feel like they are being challenged or want to exhibit that their car is better than other people's cars," Hutson said.

If that was the case here, combined with children in each car, it created quite a buzz here on ksl.com.

Commenters said things like, "I hope the father gets jail time." "Think of the innocent people minding their own business in the silver car." And, "Stupid, stupid, stupid. People who put the public at risk!"

Experts say it's part of human nature, having a short fuse and the belief that we don't think anything bad will happen to us.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Brian Taracena said, "You talk to a lot of people and say, ‘Didn't you know this was dangerous or risky?' and their response will often be ‘No, I really didn't think so.' "

He continued, "A lot of that is born out of the inability to think of all the factors contributing to that one specific dangerous situation."

Although the father and son injured in the accident are both in critical condition, their injuries are not considered to be life-threatening.

The sheriff's department is still investigating the accident. Right now no charges have been filed against any of the parties involved.

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Story compiled with contributions from Shara Park , Becky Bruce, Andrew Adams and Keith McCord.

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