, Stace Hall
WARNER VALLEY, WASHINGTON COUNTY — Witnesses say a trio of adults were drinking Friday night and then driving erratically in a small car without headlights on before the mangled wreckage was discovered early Saturday morning at the bottom of a 300-foot cliff.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office confirmed that two people died as the result of the horrific crash in a popular camping and ATV area on Bureau of Land Management property southeast of the town of Washington. A third occupant of the car, a female, was taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center by helicopter for injuries.
"It's a very rugged area, there are a lot of trails around here, and a lot of ATV riders come this way," Sheriff's Underdeputy Bart Bailey said. "They were probably driving on a trail and the trail ended and they kept going over an embankment."
Witnesses said the trio — estimated to be between ages 26 and 32 — hung out with them at their campsite Friday night, where they shared some beers.
"Right now looking over the edge and seeing the car it makes me sick to my stomach knowing that there was three people in that car that I just barely met four hours ago, and now their car is off the cliff," Dylan Brown, a camper in the area said.
Afterward, the car was traveling erratically and without lights on as it sped along dirt roads in pitch dark.
The accident was reported by the third victim, who was disoriented and unsure of their exact location, according to the Washington County Sherriff's office.
Authorities believe it will be days before they are able to retrieve the car, which landed on its top and was smashed into pieces. It may be that a crane will have to be used to pluck the wreckage from the deep ravine.
The Utah State Medical Examiner's Office responded to the scene of the accident to determine cause of death.
The names of the surviving and deceased victims have not been released.
"I definitely learned that drinking and driving is bad," Brown said. "Looking over here now, off this cliff, and knowing what alcohol can do to you while your driving a vehicle is very bad. Just seeing this now, that's one thing I will never do."
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