At least two people and perhaps as many as five were killed Wednesday morning in separate accidents on fog-shrouded highways in north Salt Lake County near the Davis County border.
The accidents closed I-15 and I-215 in both directions for hours and left injured commuters trapped in their cars.By press time, names of the accident fatalities had not been released.
Steve Twiezler was driving westbound on I-215 near the Bountiful exit when he came upon the accident and stopped. He watched in his rear-view mirror as the car behind him struck his vehicle.
"It was like 100 times more violent than I could ever imagine," he said. "I kept hearing boom! boom! boom! as more and more people kept plowing into each other."
Twiezler was trapped in his vehicle, waiting for paramedics to extricate him. He was scared as he sat there, watching the car beside him burn. The vehicle was trapped under a semitrailer truck.
"I couldn't believe I got out of there," Twiezler said.
The first accident occurred at 9:30 a.m. on Redwood Road on the overpass that crosses I-215, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.
The second accident on Redwood Road occurred about a half mile north, near the Bountiful entrance to I-15 and 700 North in North Salt Lake.
Two later accidents occurred on I-215 in the same area. After accident victims were transported to local hospitals, emergency crews worked to spray foam on spills from semitrailer trucks. One truck spilled liquid oxygen. Another tanker containing sulfuric acid was moved to a safe area.
For a time, visibility was slashed to zero by the fog, and as many as 60 to 70 vehicles were involved in multiple pile-ups on I-215 and I-15, said UHP spokesman Gary Whitney.
Five injured people with critical injuries were transported by helicopter to LDS Hospital by noon, said spokesman Craig Rasmussen. The patients suffered multiple and varied injuries, including one amputated limb. Among the critically injured patients was William Alan Boes, of Salt Lake City, who was originally examined at Bountiful's Lakeview Hospital, then transferred to LDS Hospital with critical head injuries.
Lakeview admitted one accident victim, David Vigil, with multiple injuries. Spokeswoman Susan Muldoon said Vigil was in serious but stable condition. Two other patients were treated in the emergency room and released.
Holy Cross Hospital admitted one 21-year-old man with chest and abdominal pain from accident injuries, according to spokeswoman Marcie McCleary.
Wednesday's multifatality string of accidents was the second major crash incident to occur on Utah roads within the past three weeks. Six people died Dec. 18 when a semitractor trailer careened across the median on I-80 near the Wyoming-Utah state line, striking a Greyhound bus. Icy roads were blamed for that accident.